Despite Alejandro Valverde’s success at debut race, after a two-year doping ban, his team will need to find success elsewhere, if they hope to secure WorldTour status next year.
Last year the UCI decided that any rider coming back from a doping ban could not contribute towards the team’s ranking points. A quirk in the rule allows riders to accumulate points and Valverde’s second place, in Australia, puts him 19 points behind Simon Gerrans. When deciding on whether a team should have WorldTour status, the UCI look at a number or different things including their ethical merits.
Valverde was handed his ban after a long drawn out case, which came as a result of the 2006 Operacion Puerto. Italy took the first step and banned him in May 2009 and a year later he was given a backdated two-year ban, from all competition. Despite his time out, it looks like El Bala could be Movistar’s best chance of a big victory this year. It won’t just be this year’s points that won’t count; the points ban will carry on throughout 2013.
I think it is safe to agree that the idea of nullifying any points is a good one, but I don’t think they have gone far enough. If you are going to ban riders from contributing towards a team’s WorldTour status, then why are they allowed to potentially talk the WorldTour title. Perhaps they should stop riders from accumulating any WorldTour points at all. Instead of the two-years for the team points, they could ban them from the points for a year. It could be a way of staggering their return into cycling. I think that was the mistake the FIA made when they removed McLaren's points, after "spygate". I think if you are going to take the team points you need to take the individual points.
Ultimately I think it is another good step towards making life difficult for riders who have doped. I think it will encourage riders to ensure they don’t miss any tests. For all those people who diss cycling, because of the doping, they should think again. I think there is much more doping in other sports, it is just cycling isn’t afraid to air their dirt laundry.