Spanish cyclist Alejandro Valverde has appealed against a doping ban imposed by Italian authorities last month, world sport's top court said on Friday.
The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) last month banned Valverde from racing in Italy for two years due to his alleged involvement in the Operation Puerto blood doping scandal, thereby ruling him out of the Tour de France, which this year passes through Italy's Val D'Aosta region on July 21.
Valverde called on the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to "exonerate him of any sanction and to terminate this matter" and "state that CONI had no jurisdiction," CAS said in a statement.
Lausanne-based CAS said it would be consulting the different parties involved before it sets out a calendar for the procedure "as soon as possible".
Normally an arbitration court panel takes about four months to issue a ruling, but it can accelerate the process in special circumstances.
Valverde faces a worldwide two-year ban if cycling's world ruling body the International Cycling Union (UCI) acts upon evidence yet to be delivered by CONI about his alleged involvement in the Operation Puerto case.
The Spaniard, who won the Dauphine Libere stage race on Sunday, had already declared his intention to take his case to CAS, declaring himself "outraged" by CONI's decision on May 11.
Valverde's case is complicated by the fact that he has been suspended by an authority to which he does not directly answer.
The UCI, the only organisation with the power to extend the ban to affect all professional races, is studying CONI's files and is expected to make a statement next week.
This year's Tour de France takes place from July 4-26.
Boonen and QuickStep taking legal action against Tour organisers
Ace Belgian sprinter Tom Boonen and his Quick Step team are to contest his ban from the Tour de France by the race organisers ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) they announced on Friday.
The 28-year-old three-time Paris-Roubaix winner had been barred by ASO on Thursday after testing positive for cocaine for the second time in a year in April - they stated that they did not believe that his image suited what they envisaged for the great race.
However, Quick Step issued a statement on Friday where they said that they would pursue all legal channels to contest this decision and believed that they had been helped by a statement also released on Thursday by the sport's governing body the International Cycling Union (UCI).
In it the UCI said they would not be taking punitive action over six-time Tour de France stage winner and 2007 green jersey champion Boonen's positive test.
"The Quick Step team have decided to contest by all legal means the decision taken by ASO, which they believe are baseless," read the statement.
"This decision by ASO is even more astonishing, because yesterday (Thursday) afternoon, the UCI published a press release in which they officially announced that they had ruled out any disciplinary action against Tom," added team manager Patrick Lefevere.
One of the team's lawayers said that they were rapidly putting together their arguments.
"In view of the short time between now and the beginning of the Tour (July 4) urgency is of the utmost priority, and we are getting on with preparing our case," said the lawyer, Jean-Louis Dupont.
© 2009 AFP & BikeRadar