UCI joins CONI's case against Valverde

ROME (Reuters) - Alejandro Valverde will have to face the International Cycling Union (UCI) as well as the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) when he appears at an anti-doping tribunal, CONI said on Thursday.

The Spanish rider, who denies wrongdoing, was charged by CONI at the start of the month with being involved in Spain’s Operacion Puerto blood doping scandal.

CONI’s anti-doping prosecutor called for a two-year ban but any suspension agreed by the Italian anti-doping tribunal can be enforced only inside Italy.

However CONI said in a statement on Thursday that a UCI delegate would be present at the May 11 hearing in Rome, raising the possibility that the governing body could extend any ban worldwide.

CONI has said that blood samples Valverde gave at a doping control when last year’s Tour de France entered Italy for a stage matched DNA from code-named bags of blood discovered in the Spanish Puerto investigation, which was launched in 2006.

Valverde competed in the 2007 world championships despite the UCI trying to block his participation because he had been linked to Puerto.

In a separate statement, CONI said an anti-doping hearing with Italian rider Davide Rebellin, scheduled for next Monday, had been postponed to allow his B sample to be analysed.

CONI said on Wednesday that Rebellin had tested positive for CERA (Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator), the new generation of banned blood booster erythropoietin (EPO), at last August’s Beijing Olympics.

Writing by Mark Meadows in Milan; Editing by Clare Fallon; To query or comment on this story email: