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It’s a shame such a strong cyclist has been banned — but if he was doping, which is certainly plausible, then this is a good step in the right direction.

Per VeloNews:

The International Cycling Union (UCI) is satisfied by the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on the Alejandro Valverde case. Mr Valverde has been suspended from all competition for two years commencing 1 January 2010.

By deciding to suspend the Spanish rider, the CAS agreed with the UCI, which had appealed in 2007 together with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against the refusal of the Spanish Cycling Federation to open disciplinary proceedings against Mr Valverde for his involvement in Operation Puerto.

The UCI and cycling as a whole have certainly suffered greatly from this affair. The damage caused by Mr Valverde’s behaviour since the UCI became convinced of his guilt cannot be fully compensated for by this regulatory sanction. Nevertheless, the UCI is now relieved and contented with CAS’s decision as it resolves a situation that had become untenable.

Following the CAS’s decision, Mr Valverde will not be allowed to participate in any cycling events before 31 December 2011. Furthermore, he has been disqualified from all competitions in which he has competed since the beginning of the year and all points allocated to him have been removed. Mr Valverde must also return all prizes received.

The UCI World Ranking has been modified accordingly.

During the Tour de France and Vuelta this year, the ban could make things extremely interesting.  Caisse d’epargne is built specifically around Valverde, which could open up the team to hunt for breakways and stage wins this July and August.

Luckily, the ban isn’t a full two-year ban, which means he’ll be able to compete in the 2012 Giro d’Italia, along with the major spring classics.

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