Alejandro Valverde took the leader’s jersey in the Dauphiné Libéré at the top of Mont Ventoux on Thursday.
As he was racing, it was reported that the UCI had received the evidence from CONI, the Italian Olympic Committee, explaining the reasons for banning Valverde from competing in Italy for two years.
Many readers have asked why Valverde is still able to race. It’s because CONI had a 30-day deadline to hand over its report and ruling to the UCI.
On Thursday, the 30th day, the UCI received the 24-page document.
In the report, CONI says it has matched Valverde’s DNA with the blood contained in bag number 18 seized in the raids on Dr Eufemiano Fuentes’s laboratory in Madrid three years ago.
Last year, when the Tour de France made an overnight stop in Italy, Valverde was tested by CONI. The Rome police then used a Europe-wide agreement between police forces to gain access to the Operacion Puerto blood bags.
The two-year ban hinges on CONI having proved bag 18 was Valverde’s blood. The Italians say it is, and banned the rider from racing in Italy. Now the UCI’s lawyers will study the evidence and if it stands up to scrutiny and conforms to the World Anti-Doping Agency code.
On Wednesday, UCI president Pat McQuaid said it would take “four, five, six days” for the lawyers to determine whether the two-year ban from Italy should be enforced worldwide.
So, while Valverde may be free to race on until Sunday, he should know by the end of next week whether he’s to spend the next two years on the sidelines.
The other scenario is that the UCI finds flaws in CONI’s case and dismisses the ban. That would be the equivalent of a coach and horses riding through CONI’s credibility, and would do serious damage to the anti-doping effort.
Meanwhile, Valverde is reportedly appealing CONI’s decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.