I am kind of surprised, that so few are aware about the meaning of the actual status in Valverdes case. But okay, if your only source for the doping cases is Cyclingnews, I can easily understand why most of you are unaware! I am a huge fan of Cyclingnews, but they just seem to be hopeless to cover the details in all the ongoing doping cases. In my point of view that's truely a shame, since it creates a picture of unfair trials and verdicts, and the understanding why a certain rider is convicted and others not, often get lost in the fog!
Trust me! The sports court are always running on a fair and objective basis! I have been reading all the important CAS and CONI decisions, know the WADA and UCI antidoping rules to all points and dots, and can promise you that riders always are punished on an extremely fair and equal basis! In example Basso was handed out a standard 24 month suspension for violating rule §2.2 (attempted doping use), and only got it reduced with 6 months due to the fact the Team CSC had already suspended him 6 months from racing in the time frame of Juli-December 2006 (before he joined Discovery). And regarding Di Luca, it was a fact that he recieved 3 months suspension for "visiting an illegal doctor" without an approved license (which is a special Italian antidoping rule), and CAS outlined that they couldnt convict him guilty of §2.2 (attempted doping use), since neither UCI/CONI/WADA had found the evidense strong enough to charge him on that account (while the evidense for a rider like Mazzoleni was strong enough to get him busted for a §2.2 violation).
In the end it all depends upon the strength of the evidense! And there is absolutely NO WAY, that a rider like Valverde can escape getting a doping sentence of 2 years, now when he has posted a positive DNA match with the blood bag in Operation Puerto. I predict TNA (which is the Italian doping court making the verdict on the case started by the CONI prosecutor) will convict Valverde guilty of violating §2.2 (attempted doping use), and then Valverde will try to appeal to CAS, where they will confirm the judgement of TNA. The only way Valverde can get that sentence reduced, is by making a collaboration with the investigators in the case, just like Jaksche did. In case of a total collaboration with importance to bring other athletes/persons for justice, then a rider can have the suspension reduced to 1 year (but never to something less than that, when we have a §2.2 violation)!
The only problem that we currently have in the Cycling World, is that the Spanish cycling federation called RFEC tend to protect their riders rather than prosecute them (which leaves all the dirty work to be done by UCI and CONI). Plus as I mentioned earlier in another topic, that ALL police investigations revealing a doping network, with the current lack of proper WADA rules, ALWAYS are getting delayed, because the sports courts are obliged to wait for the final verdict in the civil court, before they are allowed to judge!
Moving back for a final note on Valverdes case. Yes, he is so far not suspended! But please dont forget, that all the ProTour teams signed an ethical agreement back in January 2005! The moment a prosecutor (like CONI) decide to start a case against a rider, or the moment from notice of a positive doping test, then the ethical rules stipulates, that the team will be obliged to keep their rider away from all races, until a verdict has been announced by the judge in the sports court! So if Valverde show up in the future ProTour races, he will actualy violate the ethical rules! What will be the consequence if a team violates the Ethical rules? Well, normaly this would mean that the team will be excluded from the team organisation called AIGCP and get a very bad reputation! The funny fact is, that Caisse d'Epargne already left AIGCP in 2008 after controversy about how to deal with the ethical rules. So what prevent them from actualy continue to break the ethical rules?
1) If they get bad publicity from breaking the ethical rules. This would obviously require Cyclingnews (and other critical journalists) start to wake up!
2) The race organisers tell to Caisse d'Epargne, that the team wont be allowed to start the race in case they show up with Valverde!
But does it really matter that much, when we only speak about a time frame from the end of March until May 11? To me its a matter of principal! You just never ever break the ethical rules! We need all rules commonly agreed to be respected by all teams. The ethical rules are not convicting the rider before the judge has spoken, but are simply created to protect Cycling from bad publicity in case he is convicted guilty. Even if the rider is convicted innosent, its still bloody important to follow and respect the ethical rules. To put it straight, thats the price all riders have to pay for joining a top professional sport! The ethical rules dont sideline riders in case a wierd guy accuse them for doping! NO, the ethical rules are sidelining riders in case:
1) A police report gets published to inform the public about the outcome from an police investigation (Like Operation Puerto in 2006).
2) UCI or another antidoping organisation (eg. CONI) decides to START A CASE against a rider, based upon an investigation of facts!
3) In case of a rider recieving notice that he tested positive with his A sample!
All 3 situations are serious enough to sideline the rider to protect the sport, just to be precourtionary! So that's why its a huge scandal, in case Valverde show up at the Ardennes Classics, without the race organiser or the media or the ProTour teams putting up the red flag in order to at least prevent him from racing all the top races on the World Calendar!