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The Gavia, at 2,621m, was the highest point in the race and designated the Cima Coppi. Photo: Graham Watson

The last word?

Valverde tastes blood following

CAS ban

He's finally gone. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) —the highest authority in the world of sport — has announced that it would ban Alejandro Valverde until December 31,2011, for his involvement in Operacion Puerto.

But Valverde refuses to lie down, and will appeal to the Swiss Supreme Court.

The Caisse d'Epargne rider had evaded suspension since May 2006, when he was named in Puerto after an investigation into the alleged blood-doping network run by Madrid-based doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

Italian intervention

Other riders who were named had to retire, such as Jan Ullrich. Others, such as Ivan Basso and Michele Scarponi, served suspensions. More still — Francisco Mancebo and Oscar Sevilla, for example—simply dropped down to the basement level of the sport to ride for small teams.

But Valverde kept riding. And kept winning. The Spanish cycling federation, despite the insistence of the UCI, refused to rule on the matter, so the Italians took it upon themselves to intervene.

CONI — the Italian Olympic Committee — made sure it tested Valverde when the Tour de France crossed onto Italian soil in 2008. They then used an international agreement between European police forces to gain access to blood bags seized as part of the Operacion Puerto investigation. They matched Valverde's DNA to the DNA of blood in bag number 18, code-named Valv.Piti.

"Others retired or dropped to basement level"

One man banned: Alejandro Valverde's past has finally caught up with him

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