CONI seeks Valverde ban

Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri on Wednesday called for Alejandro Valverde, embroiled in a Spanish blood doping probe, to be suspended for two years. Last month, Valverde told an Italian anti-doping hearing he had not done anything wrong and was in no way mixed up in Spain's Operación Puerto scandal.

Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri on Wednesday called for Alejandro Valverde, embroiled in a Spanish blood doping probe, to be suspended for two years.

Last month, Valverde told an Italian anti-doping hearing he had not done anything wrong and was in no way mixed up in Spain’s Operación Puerto scandal.

According to Torri, blood samples from Valverde emanating from a doping control during last year’s Tour de France during a stage in Italy matched DNA samples from suspect blood bags discovered in the Spanish investigation, which dates from 2006.

Torri said in February after interviewing the racer that “we can say with certainty blood sachet number 18 is Valverde’s.”

The case has raised several jurisdictional issues, given that Valverde is licensed through the Spanish federation, which has declined to pursue the matter. Spanish judicial authorities, however, reportedly shared samples with CONI, which is funded by the Italian government.

If CONI does issue a ban, it may only apply in Italy, although the UCI may be under an obligation to recognize it as a global suspension.

A CONI statement issued Wednesday noted that the 28-year-old Spanish champion has been charged with violating article 2.2 of the World Anti-Doping Code.

“CONI’s anti-doping prosecutor has asked for the athlete Alejandro Valverde Belmonte to be brought before CONI’s national anti-doping tribunal for violation of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s code … with the request he receive a two-year suspension.”