Suspected Valverde pulls out of Plouay GP

Top Spanish rider benched under Puerto cloud

Spanish cycling ace Alejandro Valverde has pulled out of the Plouay Grand Prix ProTour race this Sunday due to suspicions over his implication in a doping affair.

Race organisers had been looking forward to having the Caisse d'Epargne team allrounder on the start line, but existing suspicions over Valverde's links to the 'Operation Puerto' drugs scandal have taken a new twist.

Valverde was Wednesday banned from racing in next month's world road cycling championships by the International Cycling Union (UCI). The UCI suspects he may be involved in the affair, which erupted 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 has so far denied any involvement with Fuentes.

© AFP 2007

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