Valverde’s comeback postponed to January

Monday, 14 November 2011

Valverde Movistar

Movistar had announced Alejandro Valverde as the star attraction of a press conference in their flagship Madrid store. The banned rider was to unveil the team’s jersey for 2012. From a marketing perspective having a banned athlete as The Face of your team is perhaps a brave move. But the UCI has intervened to say he cannot take part and the event has been cancelled.

There’s a UCI rule about banned riders staying away from the sport in all forms and I quoted it last August after the rider was spotted taking part in gran fondo rides. He was breaking the UCI’s rules then and – as pictured – even wearing Movistar kit and riding the prototype Campagnolo electric gears. But nobody seemed to mind, presumably because he was being discreet instead of fronting a press conference. Now the UCI has swung into action. Good.

The UCI’s got rules and as I’ve often said, it needs to apply them firmly and consistently. It should be noted that rider contracts typically run from 1 January to 31 December and so Valverde isn’t officially a Movistar rider until the start of 2012 anyway. His ban ends on the same day too.

I wrote yesterday that it would be interesting to see how his comeback work outs and this isn’t an auspicious start. Did Movistar not read the rulebook – that a banned rider can’t take part – or did they think that nobody would enforce the rules?

At the same time what will the sponsor think? They’re Spain’s biggest mobile communications provider, they booked the time and place and invited the media, only to scrap this at the last minute. Big companies don’t like this sort of thing.

Summary
Sunday’s tale of 3,000 sit ups a day was amusing. A cancelled press conference isn’t a big deal but it is a more serious issue and an embarrassment for the sponsor. The good news is that the UCI is enforcing its own rules here.

JamesBoH November 14, 2011 at 11:55 pm

What’s the punishment which goes along with the rule? Can we keep adding to his ban week by week?

evan November 15, 2011 at 12:20 am

“an interpretation of the international rules which we show in strong disagreement with” — what part of the rule is open for interpretation?

Sidamo November 15, 2011 at 2:50 am

It’s the UCI, so probably all of it open to interpretation.

TotheBillyoh November 15, 2011 at 2:56 am

inrng: Keep shining a light on these topics and the UCI will be forced to do the right thing more often. Well done.

sillyoldbugger November 15, 2011 at 3:13 am

People keep forgetting that the rules don’t apply to the Spanish.

Spanish authorities have long frustrated the UCI by refusing to investigate riders, arguing that national laws left them powerless. Valverde was, therefore, able to win a CAS ruling when the UCI tried to bar him from the road World Championships in 2007.

Have a look at the lineup of talent for Contador’s defence: lawyers, riders and experts who will all testify that since Contador didn’t know he was eating tainted meat, then it’s not his fault he tested positive (despite the rules).

TheSkullKrusher November 15, 2011 at 4:02 am

“… or did they think that nobody would enforce the rules?” — Yeah, I’m sure that’s exactly what they thought. The UCI are so inconsistent with their crap, I can’t blame them.

Robert Merkel November 15, 2011 at 11:52 am

Are European Gran Fondos UCI-sanctioned events?

ChrisO November 15, 2011 at 12:57 pm

@Robert Merkel
It isn’t just UCI sanctioned events which are prohibited – it’s any event or competition organised by a federation or even a club or any organisation which has a connection to ‘official’ cycling.

Basically he shouldn’t/wouldn’t even be able to coach kids going around traffic cones at a primary school.

Justin November 15, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Its interesting to me to see the similarities with this situation to other sports. Michael Vick comes to mind from the NFL. Its astonishing that the riders/players are welcomed back to the organization they had been banned from or fired from with little to no repercussions. The emphasis on winning is incredible. The banned portion of a riders carrier for doping is worth the results to the team and sponsor. Why else would a team welcome back Valverde, Vino, and other previous dopers? We are yet to penetrate the inner ring of these scandals in the sport. What ever happend to the UCI raising the sentance of banned riders?

jza November 15, 2011 at 7:23 pm

The Valverde training stories are the best. 3000 sit-ups? Really? I remember once his coach said he was doing 9-hour motorpace sessions, like 2 weeks before the Tour.

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