Spanish federation wins case against UCI
STUTTGART, Germany -- The International Cycling Union was forced Wednesday to allow Spain's Alejandro Valverde and Australian Allan Davis to compete at the world championships despite the federation's doping suspicions.
Additionally, the city of Stuttgart threatened to sue the UCI for $1.41 million for possible financial losses from sponsors and broadcast rights if Italian riders Paolo Bettini and Danilo Di Luca compete.
The UCI had banned Valverde from Sunday's elite men's race because of his alleged links to the Operation Puerto blood-doping investigation in Spain. The federation had said any rider suspected of involvement in doping can be prevented from participating in competitions.
Wednesday, the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport overruled that decision, arguing it constituted a sanction even before he was found guilty.
UCI president Pat McQuaid said he would abide by the ruling.
"Absolutely, I would give him the [winner's rainbow] jersey if he wins," McQuaid said.
With the Valverde ruling, UCI also decided to let Davis compete. He, too, had appealed to the CAS to overturn his exclusion from Sunday's race for alleged links to Operation Puerto.
Valverde, who races with Caisse d'Epargne, finished sixth at this year's Tour de France and is considered among the favorites Sunday.
"I go to Germany with a lot of hope and enthusiasm to not let anyone down. To be sincere, the events of the past few days have affected my concentration. But I want to go and do the best possible," Valverde told the EFE news agency.
"Us riders are being used in a war of interests between organizations, and it's about time that everyone who loves cycling should take a step forward and defend it. It has to be made clean and without discrimination," he said.
The ruling will likely increase the tension between local organizers and the UCI.
Earlier Wednesday, Stuttgart mayor Wolfgang Schuster demanded that the UCI adhere to the anti-doping measures adopted by the organizers and that world champion Bettini and Di Luca be excluded.
The Italian Olympic Committee found abnormal results in a surprise test taken during Di Luca's Giro win in June. And Bettini has refused to sign an anti-doping pledge.
City organizers said they have an agreement, reached at Stuttgart's insistence after a series of doping scandals rocked the Tour de France, to prevent riders who do not sign the anti-doping pledge from competing.
The UCI said the document has no legal weight and that the federation does not have the power to exclude those riders.
ZDF, one of Germany's two public broadcasters, said it could drop the championships from its weekend schedule because of the doping issues. It halted its Tour de France coverage in midrace in July because of the scandals.
Chief editor Nikolaus Brender said he was "keeping all options open. This includes dropping the broadcast."
The federal government also froze $212,000 for organizational costs until the situation on the anti-doping pledge is clear, according to a statement by the Interior Ministry, which oversees sports.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press