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Miguel Ángel López fired by Astana for ‘probable connection’ with doctor investigated for drug trafficking

López denies any connection and describes the decision to sack him as a 'clear case of abusive dismissal.'

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Astana-Qazaqstan has fired Miguel Ángel López after finding “new elements” of “probable connection” with a doctor that is being investigated by Spanish police for drug trafficking and money laundering.

López was suspended by the team in July for his reported connections to Dr Marcos Maynar, who was arrested in May, and the investigation into him. The Colombian was reinstated a week later saying that it could not prevent him from racing in the absence of any findings from the Spanish authorities.

The case hit the news again at the end of November after Spanish police arrested two more people and six more investigated. At the time, López denied that he was under investigation, but Astana confirmed Monday that he had been released from the team.

“Astana Qazaqstan Team discovered new elements showing Miguel Ángel López’s probable connection with Dr Marcos Maynar,” the Astana statement said. “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.”

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According to reports in Spanish wire service EFE, chemicals were mixed with nutritional products to make banned substances. Police said that athletes were charged up to 3,000 Euros for the service and that some using it were “high-level” athletes.

López has continued to deny his part in the investigation and described Astana’s decision to fire him a “clear case of abusive dismissal” in a statement posted on his Instagram account.

“Today, the decision of the Astana-Qazaqstan team to terminate the contract linking cyclist Miguel Ángel López to the same, a contract that had been renewed in November 2022, for the 2023 season,” the statement said.

“Cyclist Mr. Miguel Angel Lopez considers this decision absolutely unjustified, with no new fact that justifies it and that it was unknown in November 2022 by the Astana team, rejecting any insinuation that damages his name and honor as a professional cyclist, and remembering that never ever during his career has he tested positive for no doping substance or has he even been the subject of an investigation by the competent authorities.

“Mr. Miguel Ángel Lopez reports that he will exercise all legal actions that assist him in defense of his rights, given what he understands is a clear case of abusive dismissal without just cause.”