Alejandro Valverde on Monday said he would immediately appeal a two-year ban imposed by the world’s top sports court.
Calling the ban “totally unjust and illegal,” Valverde said he would appeal to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland.
His team added that he was “probably the most controlled sportsman in the world” and that he never tested positive in a doping control.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday announced the ban, which stems from Valverde’s alleged involvement in the Operación Puerto drugs scandal, which erupted in 2006.
The Caisse d’Epargne rider, the recent winner of the Tour de Romandie in Switzerland and one of the most feared racers in hilly one-day classics and one-week stage races, has been banned from racing in Italy since May 2009.
The Italian authorities took a blood sample from the Spaniard at the 2008 Tour de France when it passed through the country, and it matched one of the blood bags containing the banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin) from the 2006 Puerto raid.
Amid the Spanish authorities’ refusal to hand over evidence that could incriminate Valverde, the UCI had been left frustrated in its attempt to have that ban extended worldwide. CAS gave the UCI hope with a first decision in March 2010 that effectively rubber-stamped Valverde’s ban in Italy. On Monday, CAS announced:
“The CAS has partially upheld the appeals filed by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) and the Spanish cyclist Alejandro Valverde. Accordingly, the CAS has imposed a two-year ban on Alejandro Valverde starting on 1 January 2010 but has denied the request of the UCI and WADA that results obtained by the athlete prior to the beginning of the suspension be annulled.”
Valverde is the current leader of the UCI world rankings with 392 points. If he is stripped of points earned since January 1, BMC’s Cadel Evans, with 374 points, could replace him atop the leader board.