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McQuaid: DNA-Test the "Valv.Piti" Bloodbag

Pat McQuaid has offered Alejandro Valverde a means for ending the standoff over his participation in next week's World Championships: submit a DNA sample to be compared with the blood in the bag seized in Operacion Puerto marked "valv.piti." This notation has long formed the basis of suspicion that Valverde was a client of Dr. Fuentes, which if true would likely cost El Imbatible two years off his Cycling career. Spanish authorities have steadfastly maintained that there isn't enough evidence to prosecute Valverde; in fact, since Valverde's dog isn't named "piti" as originally rumored, the only evidence prompting the case is "valv." But McQuaid has played the ace here: if the blood is Valverde's, there's your evidence.

This is an interesting development because of its implications for DNA testing as a tool. Valverde is under tremendous pressure to go along, not only because he looks guilty if he doesn't, but because this year's course in Stuttgart is tailor-made for him, climby with an uphill finish that will probably impede the pure sprinters... but likely coming down to a bunch finish. If he's not guilty, he'd be well within his rights to still refuse this invasion of his privacy, but that's a lame principle to protect at the cost of a possible rainbow jersey.

If he gives in, he's either gone for two years or he's established the precedent that innocent riders should fork over DNA to maintain their status. No doubt there's going to be plenty of pressure from the other riders to refuse. I'll defend his right to refuse, but I think it's foolish at this point.

Meanwhile, McQuaid has done the sport a slight service, if you can call undoing one's own nonsense a service. Now he's created a situation where, if the sample comes in, the Valverde case will be decided not on rumors but on whether there's an outstanding case against him. This is the original standard for excluding a rider, one that's workable. And if Valverde refuses, then McQuaid has probably shored up his support, given the bad posture Valverde would be in.