An alert reader has spotted that Alejandro Valverde is building up for his comeback to the pro peloton. The photo above comes from newspaper La Opinión de Granada. The Spaniard has been suspended for his involvement in the blood doping network uncovered by Operation Puerto but is training hard for his return with Movistar next year (note the team issue Pinarello with Campagnolo’s electronic gears and the Nalini clothing).
Not content with training hard, he’s been taking part in organised rides. Perhaps mindful of his suspension in the amateur ride above from July he didn’t have a race number… but started with the others and went on to cross the finish line first.
But he’s sailing close to the wind. The rules are quite clear, he shouldn’t be riding.
320 Prohibition against Participation during Ineligibility: No License-Holder who has been declared Ineligible may, during the period of Ineligibility, participate in any capacity in an Event or activity (other than authorized anti-doping education or rehabilitation programs) authorized, recognized or organized by UCI, a Continental Confederation, a National Federation, or any other Signatory, Signatory’s member organization, or a club or other member organization of any Continental Confederation or National Federation of UCI or another Signatory or Signatory’s member organization, or in Competitions authorized or organized by any professional league or any international or national level Event organization.
It’s not the crime of the century and he might well be trying to enjoy a ride for the fun of it – like Jan Ullrich. But it’s worth pointing out that a suspended rider is blocked from almost every form of organised riding. Breaking the UCI’s anti-doping rules during suspension isn’t the best start to a comeback.
One thing is sure, he’ll ride with Movistar once his suspension formally ends. He’s already been training with riders on the squad and on the day of the ride in question above he took a moment to salute the late Xavi Tondo.