Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Valverde to miss Tour de France

Alejandro Valverde will miss the Tour de France as he waits for an appeal to be heard against a two-year doping ban.

Valverde lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) against the ban, which was imposed by the Italian Olympic Committe (Coni).

"We are obliged to announce Alejandro Valverde will not be at the start," said his Caisse d'Epargne team.

This year's Tour heads into Italy, the country in which the Spaniard is currently banned from riding.

Coni said a blood sample Valverde gave in last year's Tour de France matched code-named bags of blood discovered in Spain's Operation Puerto investigation.

Cas had said that it would try to schedule the case as soon as possible.


Normally an arbitration court panel takes about four months to issue a ruling, but Cas can accelerate the process in special circumstances.

But Valverde's team said the Cas ruling could not be made before the Tour, which heads through the Val d'Aosta region of Italy on 21 July, started in Monaco on 4 July.

The statement added: "We trust Alejandro Valverde will overcome this difficult situation and continue to show his qualities in the next races."

Speaking after winning the recent Dauphine Libere race in France, Valverde, who was the world's top ranked cyclist in 2008, said he hoped the Italian ban would be overturned.

"I hope to go to the Tour and everything gets decided beforehand by Cas," he said. "It's very difficult and frustrating but I try not to get angry.

"Almost everything that has happened to me in this case is unjust, but I get a lot of support from my team - I'm sure it'll work out well at the end."

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