Coni presses forward with Valverde doping case

Spaniard says he will go to Italy to "give his side of the story"

Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde's appearance before the Italian Olympic Committee (Coni) to face doping charges has been kept for Thursday (February 19) after describing a Spanish court's objections to the proceedings as "groundless."

Valverde's summons in Rome to question the rider has been kept for 1600GMT on Thursday, Coni said in a Wednesday statement, because of separate, "independent evidence."

A Spanish court earlier on Wednesday moved to block the case by Coni following a blood and urine sample given by the Caisse d'Epargne rider last year during an Italian leg of the Tour de France. The court claimed the samples of blood held by the Spanish justice system in relation to 'Operation Puerto' doping scandal, which erupted in Spain in 2006, could not be used on another case in another country.

Although the Tour de France sample did not fail any tests, the DNA matched those of other samples seized by Spanish police from the laboratory of Dr Eufemiano Fuentes, the central figure in the Puerto scandal. But Coni's anti-doping section said they "considered the objections groundless because the deeds from the 'Operation Puerto' inquiry had been acquired in complete compliance with the current regulations concerning international bodies."

Coni prosecutors added they were "also in possession of independent evidence which compelled them to proceed with the disciplinary proceedings against Alejandro Valverde for violating anti-doping rules."

Valverde later told Spanish radio station RNE that he would definitely be going to Rome after deciding to "give his side of the story as a sign of goodwill and to defend his reputation."

Valverde has long come under suspicion of doping after being implicated in the Puerto affair although nothing came of Spanish investigations into his alleged involvement.

Valverde is a one-day specialist who is a twice Pro Tour champion and has three times finished on the podium at the World Championships and was second in the 2006 Tour of Spain.

© AFP 2009

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