Alejandro Valverde, back from a two-year ban, says he has nothing to apologize for in the wake of his controversial sanction for links to the Operación Puerto blood doping scandal.
The Spanish rider, speaking to the Spanish daily El País during the team’s official presentation in Madrid this week, said he’s turned the page on his ban and has no intention of adding more fuel to the fire.
“I have nothing to confess. They sanctioned me for two years and I served it out. I don’t regret anything,” Valverde told El País. “In every moment of my life, I’ve done the right thing. I feel good about myself. I have nothing to reproach myself or have to say anything.”
Echoing comments he told VeloNews.com last month in an interview, a defiant Valverde says he will not speak in depth about his controversial ban.
Unlike some riders, such as Ivan Basso and Michele Scarponi, who admitted their role in the blood doping ring, Valverde has never fully come clean publicly on the case.
Italian officials took blood samples from Valverfe during the 2008 Tour de France, when a stage passed through Italian territory. They later matched those to blood bags that were part of the Puerto police raids that were attributed to belong to Valverde.
The match was positive, enough for Italian cycling officials, and later WADA and the UCI, to press for a ban for Valverde.
When asked about the blood bags by El País, Valverde refused to comment.
“I have nothing more to say,” he said. “If you study the case, then you’ll know the whole story.”
Valverde said he received a warm welcome from his fellow professionals with return to competition at the Tour Down Under, where he won a stage, saying, “No one turned their back on me.”
Though he continues to remain defiant, he did admit that he’s glad that the Puerto story is now in the past.
“The suspension was hard, of course, but at the time, it served for something. The last two and a half years, until the ban, were strange,” he said. “I was going to the races and still winning, but it wasn’t the same. I always knew there was that (asterisk) and I wasn’t happy about that. Now I’ve served out the ban, which wasn’t nice, but it arrived and it’s over, and now all I have to do is to look forward.”
Valverde also took a shot at sporting justice, saying that the rules are not always applied fairly.
“Neither yes or no,” he said of fairness of CAS. “With some people, they’ve been fair, with others, not so much. With me, they made me pay to the letter of the law, 100 percent. I’ve served it out, I’ve paid the price. What’s most important is that we’re here. They should be strict, but strict with everyone.”
Valverde, 32 in April, will next race at the Mallorca Challenge next week in Spain before preparing for the spring classics and later the Tour de France and Olympic Games.