Tour de France - Valverde loses appeal, Tour entry in doubt

Reuters - Tue, 16 Mar 15:24:00 2010

Alejandro Valverde's Tour de France participation was hanging in the balance after he lost an appeal to race in Italy, prompting cycling's governing body to make its move to extend the sanction.

0920 ITW Valverde 3 - 0

"The suspension remains in force until 10 May 2011," the Court of Arbitration for Sport said in a statement.

Tour of Spain champion Valverde has been barred from racing in Italy since May for alleged links to the Operation Puerto anti-doping investigation.

Italy's Olympic Committee (CONI) imposed the ban, saying blood samples Valverde gave at a doping control in 2008 - when the Tour de France entered Italy - matched DNA from code-named bags of blood discovered in Operation Puerto, launched in 2006.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) said they would do everything in their power to prevent him from racing anywhere.

"UCI welcomes very favourably the decision by CAS which confirms its beliefs based on a thorough study of the Puerto case and of Alejandro Valverde's implication in it," it said in a statement.

"As a result, UCI expresses its determination to launch after having examined the CAS rulings, the adequate procedures to come to a ban applicable internationally."

The UCI is also waiting for a CAS ruling, expected in the next few days, on an appeal by the UCI and WADA of the Spanish cycling federation's decision not to ban Valverde.

In January, CAS rejected a request from the UCI and WADA to extend the ban worldwide, saying it fell outside the jurisdiction of the case.

Should CAS rule in their favour, the two organisations would be in a position to ban Valverde for two years from the date of the decision - until 2012.

Valverde, who last year won the Dauphine Libere as well as the Vuelta but missed the Tour de France because the race was briefly going through Italy, did not accept the CAS ruling and said he would challenge the outcome in the Swiss courts.

In a statement, the Spaniard outlined three reasons for rejecting the CAS decision to turn down his appeal.

"1. We considered that one of the judges was not impartial, having worked for the World Anti-Doping Agency. The partiality of this judge is being analysed by Switzerland's Federal Tribunal, which is due to make a decision in this respect.

"If the Swiss Federal Tribunal considers this judge is partial, today's CAS decision will be meaningless. The impartiality of the judges if a necessary condition for a fair hearing.

"2. (CAS) does not have the authority to consider a decision of the Spanish judicial system to be illegal."

"3. The decision by (CAS) clearly breaches the fundamental rights of the racer, above all the right to a fair hearing and the right to privacy.

"The lack of impartiality of this panel of judges and the clear breaches of fundamental rights have provoked us to not accept this decision and as a result we will proceed to place an appeal with the Swiss Federal Court/Tribunal."

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