Miguel Ángel López at the Vuelta a España.

CAS rules that Astana must pay López for 2022

Miguel Ángel López remains suspended by the UCI.

Dane Cash
by Dane Cash 10.05.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos
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The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) told the Astana-Qazaqstan team this week that it must pay its former rider, Miguel Ángel López, the balance of his contract after the team suspended López midway through the 2022 season on suspicion of doping and then fired him that winter, AS reports.

Astana-Qazaqstan was hoping to avoid paying out Lopez’s full contract, from May of 2022 through to the end of that year, and based its argument to CAS on evidence collected during a criminal investigation in Spain that suggested that López had pulled out of the 2022 Giro d’Italia due to health issues caused by doping, but CAS deemed the evidence against López insufficient.

López was ultimately fired by Astana in December of 2022 after the team said it had “discovered new elements showing Miguel Ángel López’ probable connection with Dr. Marcos Maynar,” who was charged with various crimes amid investigations by Spanish authorities in connection with the so-called Operation Ilex. López was then provisionally suspended by the UCI in July of 2023 after the International Testing Agency (ITA) deemed that there had been a “potential anti-doping rule violation” due to the “use and possession of a prohibited substance in the weeks prior to the Giro d’Italia 2022.”

López has denied doping and has said that he has never tested positive. That case is still pending.

According to media reports, the Spanish probe had turned up evidence suggesting that López may have used the growth hormone Menotropin before the 2022 Giro and subsequently left the race due to his body’s reaction to the banned substance. That said, AS reported in February that even despite new evidence continuing to emerge, the public prosecutor in Spain might drop the case because it was too difficult to prove which implicated riders had doped.

Nonetheless, Astana had hoped that the evidence could give the team cause to withhold López’s salary from part of his time with the team, in what was his second stint there after López spent less than a season at Movistar. CAS rejected Astana’s argument on the grounds that the evidence was lacking.

López, who signed with the Medellín-EPM squad last year and took several wins in UCI races in the first half of the year, remains suspended.

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