Miguel Ángel López fired by Astana, ‘I have never tested positive’ he hits back
The Colombian considers the dismissal a clear case of wrongful termination that he intends to take to court.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Astana-Qazaqstan have fired Miguel Ángel López after uncovering new evidence showing “probable connection” to Dr Marcos Maynar, a doctor accused of drug trafficking and money laundering in a major investigation being undertaken by the Spanish police.
“Astana Qazaqstan Team discovered new elements showing Miguel Angel Lopez’ probable connection with Dr Marcos Maynar,” the team said in a statement. “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.”
López had already been suspended by the team due to alleged involvement with the Maynar case back in July but was re-instated after “no evidence” was found, returning to racing in time for the Vuelta a España where he finished fourth overall.
These “new elements” mentioned by Astana Qazaqstan are, according to Spanish outlet ABC, documents from the Guardia Civil showing that López was administered Menotropin, a growth hormone, before the start of this year’s Giro d’Italia. The substance can have a performance-enhancing effect but in this case it’s suspected to have caused the Colombian’s early retirement from the race on stage 4. At the time, the official line from the rider and the team was a hip injury forced him to DNF but the doping investigation alleges that López suffered an inflammation in his leg.
According to the police documents, the Menotropin was received at the Giro start in Hungary by Vicente Belda García, an Astana masseur who is also the son of Vincente Belda, a former cyclist and team principal and one of the main suspects in the Maynar case. Both Beldas have been called to testify in the case in the new year.
Maynar has already been arrested by the Spanish police. During several house searches medicines prohibited by WADA were seized and they have also apparently deciphered coded messages and uncovered various bank transactions as well as specific costs and revenues for medicines.
In a statement, presumably written from the perspective of his lawyers, Miguel Ángel López denied all allegations and also uttered the infamous phrase that he has “never tested positive for drugs or doping”.
“The rider hereby states that he sees no reason for the choice of Astana Qazaqstan , and that there are no new facts that justify such a decision. There are no new facts that were not yet known or reported before November 2022,” the statement read.
“The rider rejects all allegations that could damage his name and honor as a cycling professional. He points out that he has never tested positive for drugs for doping, and that he has never been investigated by any authority.
“Mr. Miguel Angel Lopez hereby informs that he will defend himself before the corresponding courts, in a case that he considers a clear case of wrongful termination of contract without due cause.”