Where now for Alejandro Valverde? Banned from the Worlds because of accusations of possible links to Operacion Puerto, the Spanish star could expect a summons in the near future from his Federation to answer questions about the case.
But Valverde may also have to hand over a sample of his DNA – as he agreed to do in July prior to racing the Tour de France when he signed the UCI?s anti-doping charter.
If Valverde does so, then the links between himself and Puerto could finally be resolved in one sense or another.
However, the question of what exactly the UCI have discovered in the 6,000 page ?complete? dossier of Operacion Puerto – only in their hands since this spring, when the case was archived by the Spanish courts -will be at the heart of this new development in the Valverde case.
Valverde never figured on the original list of implicated riders in Puerto, although the presence of a blood bag with the initals Val.Piti was taken in some quarters to be indicative of a possible link.
That wasn?t the case, though, for the Spanish police investigators, who concluded that there was insufficent evidence to implicate the Caisse D?Epargne rider. So he continued to race.
So far reactions in Spain have tended to be of cautious support for the rider. Caisse D?Epargne boss Jose Miguel Echavarri commented ?it?s surprising that now they [the UCI] see something that?s never been seen before. Why now??
?Our World?s team is crippled by this.? Spanish National Federation road coach Francisco Antequera added. ?We?ve still got Oscar Freire, but I had counted on Valverde as well.?
Last year, the government run Spanish Sports Council – responsible for handling doping cases in Spain – and the Spanish Cycling Federation denied that Valverde was implicated. Now they will have to re-investigate the case all over again, hopefully to resolve the situation one way or the other once and for all..