Blazin' Saddles

V for Vendetta

Blazin' Saddles

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Much was made about Mark Cavendish's childish two-fingered salute in Romandie last Wednesday but for Alejandro Valverde, the race's eventual winner, 'V' simply stands for Vendetta.

You see, much like Cavendish's anger at being written off, targeted and lampooned by his critics who "know jack s--- about cycling", so too does Valverde think both the media and doping organisations have it in for him.

Apparently, the International Cycling Union and the Italian National Olympic Committee are displaying "an institutional and personal viciousness" against him. It's nothing short of a symptomatic vendetta, says the Caisse d'Epargne leader, crying himself to sleep after another victory - but stopping short at penning a pathetic Vino-style open letter.

Blazin' Saddles is having trouble pinpointing just what would make cycling aficionados and the sport's institutions even slightly miffed about the Spaniard's continued (and ever significant) presence in the peloton.

Could it be something to do with those Valv.(piti) blood bags stored by Dr Fuentes's during Operacion Puerto - blood whose DNA matched that of Valverde according to tests carried out by CONI?

Could it be something to do with Valverde's current ban in Italy and the recommendation that it should be made global? Or even with the fact that all of the other riders found to have been involved in Puerto have served a two-year suspension for their misdemeanours.

But maybe we're being too harsh on Alejandro. After all, as he announced angrily this week, these pesky accusations "refer to events that allegedly occurred more than six years ago".

The implication seems to be that we should all let bygones be bygones instead of dredging up the past.

Try saying that to a war criminal. Would murderers get a six-year amnesty if not previously found guilty? Should illegal immigrants be allowed to stay in the UK after a certain amount of years have elapsed, simply to help boost the economy?  

OK, Nick Clegg may take issue with the third example, but you get Saddles's point.

Back to Valverde's speech and this gem: "My victories are indisputable. They seek to cast doubt on the victories gained over my career and to damage my public image."

But what The Green Bullet fails to see is that all his crucial career victories - including the Tour of Spain, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Dauphine Libere, Tour of Catalonia, stages at the Tour de France and last week's Tour de Romandie - occurred in the last six years of his career: that is to say, precisely within that six-year framework of doubt the Spaniard himself highlighted above.

"No banned substance has ever been detected in my body and my biological profile is flawless," he added (beating Franco Pellizotti by 50 per cent in one fell swoop).

But no one is accusing the 30-year-old of actively doping now. (That wouldn't be cheating - that would just be plain stupidity.) But that's not the point. This is about a past offender being brought to the sword.

Ivan Basso never tested positive for blood doping, but he served his two-year suspension for Puerto and did so with contrition.

What has the Italian won since his return? Nothing of any merit. Which is precisely why the pubic has a right to cast doubt on Valverde's own victories in that same time period: they may never have happened.

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