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CONI: Suspend Valverde Two Years

The Italian Olympic Committee has played its card against Alejandro Valverde and Operacion Puerto, issuing a two-year suspension to Spanish star Alejandro Valverde for doping back in 2006. Valverde is officially forbidden from racing on Italian soil for two years -- which rules out this year's Tour de France, as it dips briefly into Italy. CONI's action was based on a blood test taken at last year's Tour, also briefly in Italy, which didn't itself contain doping products but matched the famous "valv.piti" bags of blood seized in the Operacion Puerto sting, and which did contain doping products. Expect Valverde to lawyer up and to keep racing in Spain for a while, though if the UCI extends the punishment worldwide Valverde may indeed be in for a vacation.