Valverde asked to explain himself to UCI

Questions about his whereabouts in June

Under fire Spanish cycling ace Alejandro Valverde, already banned from the world road race championships later this month, faces further problems after being asked on Wednesday to explain his whereabouts in June to the sport's governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI).

The UCI want Valverde to explain why he changed his itinerary and did not indicate this in an official form which meant they could not perform a doping test on him.

His case is different to that of Danish rider Michael Rasmussen, who claimed to be in Mexico but was in fact in Italy and resulted in him eventually being ejected from the Tour de France, when looking all but certain to win it, by his Rabobank team/ He was then sacked by them.

Valverde - who is not competing in the Tour of Spain - was last month banned from racing in the world road cycling championships. The UCI suspects he may be involved in the 'Operación Puerto' drugs scandal, which erupted last year when Spanish police uncovered a doping network said to be run by Spanish sports doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

"During the meticulous studying of the 6,000-page Puerto dossier, the International Cycling Union (UCI) has concluded that several documents may show the involvement of Alejandro Valverde in the affair," the UCI said.

The UCI said it had requested the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) to open disciplinary proceedings against the rider as soon as possible.

"These proceedings would not imply any guilt on the part of Alejandro Valverde. However, according to UCI regulations, and to safeguard the atmosphere and reputation of the world championships, Alejandro Valverde will be prevented from participating in the forthcoming UCI Road World Championships in Stuttgart."

Valverde - who finished sixth in the Tour de France behind compatriot Alberto Contador - has so far denied any involvement with Fuentes.

© AFP 2007

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