Colombian cyclist Miguel Ángel López is taking his former team Astana Qazaqstan to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over what he claims is an “unlawful” breach of his contract.
The Kazakh team terminated the 29-year-old’s contract in December last year, citing his “probable connection” to a doctor under investigation in the Operación Ilex anti-doping case. López was said to be linked to Dr Marcos Maynar, a university professor arrested earlier in the year for drug trafficking and money laundering.
In a statement shared on social media on Wednesday night, López wrote that the links between him and Maynar are “faltering” and don’t seem to be under investigation in the ongoing judicial proceedings. “The person under investigation is Vicente Belda García, Astana’s team masseur and supposed recipient of the medicine from doctor Maynar.”
López has now joined up with specialist lawyers to take his former team to CAS for unfair dismissal.
The statement, originally written in Spanish and referring to the Colombian in the third person, said: “López has passed all biological passport anti-doping controls and has full authorisation to compete in any team following the renewal of his UCI licence for the year 2023.
“Pending the resolution of the dispute that he has taken up with the team at CAS, in which he considers the breach of his contract to be unlawful, the UCI has decided to block the bank warranty of the Kazakh team for the amount of €1.7m in the event of repaying the cyclist and guaranteeing, should the CAS rule in his favour, the payment of outstanding wages and damages for the possible unfulfilment of the contract by Astana.”
The UCI has been approached for comment by Cycling Weekly, but is yet to reply.
López, who now rides for Colombian Continental outfit Team Medellín-EPM, says that his current contract is open, and that he is able to sign with a WorldTour team at any moment.
The statement continued: “In the meantime, Miguel Ángel López remains motivated and committed to the team and is preparing for his next races; the Pan American Games Time Trial, the Tour of Turkey and the Tour of Greece, showing that he has the best possible level and sporting mentality.”
Contacted by Cycling Weekly, Astana Qazaqstan chose not to provide a response to López’s statement.
Ha sido un año maravilloso con el @team_medellinpero quería pasar a darles este status frente a mi caso ↪️ 📩Continuaré trabajando motivado, dando lo mejor para los retos que vienen con el equipo 🚴♀️ pic.twitter.com/lm3wsxEEeIMarch 15, 2023
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