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Alejandro Valverde, the newly crowned road world champion, says he has no regrets about his Operación Puerto ban and thinks he’s riding better than ever at the moment.
Speaking to the Spanish newspaper AS after winning a criterium in Japan, Valverde spoke about his Puerto sanction that dates back to 2010.
“The question isn’t if I should regret something or not,” he said. “I was never positive but it was decided that I should be sanctioned and that’s what happened. I fulfilled the ban and since then the only thing that I’ve worried about is enjoying the bike.”
Valverde’s comments came after he won his first race in the rainbow jersey, which he picked up with dramatic flare in Innsbruck at the end of September. The interview was only the second time Valverde spoke about Puerto. Inquired about it at the Giro di Lombardía, he said anyone asking him about Puerto “has no idea.”
Unlike other riders who have served bans and later openly discussed details, Valverde has remain tight-lipped about his links to the Puerto scandal from a decade ago. Some seem uncomfortable seeing the unrepentant Valverde in the world champion jersey, while others believe he deserves this victory without question.
Speaking to AS in Japan, Valverde did not want to stir the waters.
“Everyone can judge me as they like,” he said, “but I am aware that I have done everything possible to demonstrate that I not only won before, but also after fulfilling my sanction and I’ve perhaps even been better.”
Valverde was among only a handful of riders who served sanctions in the Puerto blood doping scandal. Dozens of others are unofficially linked but have remained unknown due to legal and bureaucratic wrangling. Recent efforts to reveal more names have been blocked by Spanish courts and a statute of limitations among anti-doping authorities.