Astana Qazaqstan have terminated the contract of Miguel Ángel López, citing his “probable connection” to a doctor under investigation in a doping case.
The Colombian has reportedly been linked to Dr Marcos Maynar, a university professor who was arrested in May for alleged crimes of drug trafficking and money laundering. Maynar is believed to be at the centre of Operación Ilex, an ongoing doping investigation in Spain.
In a brief statement published on Monday night, the team said: “Astana Qazaqstan Team discovered new elements showing Miguel Angel Lopez’ probable connection with Dr Marcos Maynar.
“Accordingly, the team had no other solution than to end the contract between team and rider, based on breaches of said contract and internal team rules, with immediate effect.
“To preserve the rights of the team and the rider no further comments will be made.”
López responded to the allegations on Twitter, saying that the decision to cancel his contract is “absolutely unjustified”.
In a statement signed by López that read as if it had been written by his lawyers he added: “The rider hereby informs that he considers such decision as with no cause, and that there are no new facts which could justify such decision, not known or reported before November 2022 by Astana Team.
“The rider rejects any allegation that could damage his name and honor as professional rider, and reminds that he has never tested positive for any drugs or doping, nor has he been investigated by any authority.
“Mr Miguel Ángel López hereby informs that he will defend his rights before the corresponding Courts, in a case, which he understands as a clear abusive termination without just cause.”
López had recently renewed his contract with Astana Qazaqstan, extending last month for the 2023 season.
In an article published today, Spanish outlet ABC claims that the Colombian reportedly took the growth hormone menotropin ahead the Giro d'Italia. ABC adds that it has seen documentation indicating that Maynar sent the substance to Hungary, where the race began.
The article goes on to suggest López's withdrawal from the Giro on stage four might have been due to an adverse reaction to the substance.
In July, the Kazakh team suspended López after he was questioned by Spanish police in relation to the investigation surrounding Maynar.
In an interview with Spanish news agency EFE, the Colombian's lawyers denied any wrongdoing, saying: “[López] flatly denies having any relationship or participation in any criminal act related to the distribution of unauthorized medicines or any other product referred to in the news published yesterday.”
The team ended the suspension the following month.
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