Alejandro Valverde has lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport against his two-year ban from competing in Italy.

The Spanish Caisse d’Epargne rider was banned from taking part in cycle races in Italy for two years by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) on May 11. The ban has yet to be extended to other countries, and Valverde won the Dauphine Libere stage race in France on Sunday.

In a statement issued on Friday, CAS said that they had received an appeal from Valverde “against the decision of the National Anti-doping Tribunal of the Italian Olympic Committee of 11 May 2009 in which a two-year suspension was imposed on him on the grounds that he had violated the UCI anti-doping regulations”.

CONI institgated the ban based on evidence it purports to have linking a sample of Valverde’s DNA taken at last year’s Tour de France and blood bag number 18 found in the Madrid laboratory of Dr Eufemiano Fuentes. The lab was at the centre of the Operacion Puerto organised doping investigation.

Valverde’s ban from competing in Italy effectively rules him out from this year’s Tour de France as the race visits the country.

The Union Cycliste internationale (UCI) is currently studying the evidence used by CONI when they prepared the case against Valverde that resulted in his ban. It will then decide if a worldwide ban should be imposed on the rider. A decision is expected within a week.

CAS was created to settle any dispute relating to sport, and its services have been used frequently in doping cases involving cyclists. On Tuesday, CAS imposed a back-dated two-year ban on Alexandre Vinokourov who tested positive for blood transfusions during the 2007 Tour de France.

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