The Katusha team has provisionally suspended Angel Vicioso after he failed to make himself available to testify in front of the judge presiding over the trial of Eufemiano Fuentes in the Operacion Puerto case.
"As of now Vicioso is suspended from all competitions," a Katusha spokesman told Reuters.
Vicioso was a member of the 2006 Liberty Seguros team which was targeted as part of Fuentes’s blood doping scheme. He is now scheduled to give testimony via video link on Friday.
Vicioso was due to appear on February 12 but was given a postponement for medical reasons because he is suffering from back pain. The judge stated yesterday that they had been unable to locate Vicioso for a rescheduled appearance, and threatened to send security forces after him should he fail to show at his scheduled time.
Speaking to local media, team manager Viacheslav Ekimov explained the suspension of Vicioso. "He told us he had settled his case but it turned out that he didn't tell us the truth."
Katusha just this week won its appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to regain its WorldTour status after the UCI refused to grant it due to ethical issues within the team, and the team is ensuring Vicioso follows through on his legal obligations with this provisional suspension.
"We want to cooperate with the UCI in every possible way, therefore such actions by Vicioso just discredits our image," Ekimov said.
Vicioso is set to address the court via video link from Lleida at 10:30 local time on Friday, followed by his former teammate Marcos Serrano at noon, also via video link from Vigo. Alberto Contador was originally set to speak on Friday but attorneys for the defense waived his appearance because it had already established the same points via other witnesses.
Manolo Saiz, the former Liberty Seguros team director, is on trial for crimes against public health along with Fuentes and his sister Yolanda and two Communidad Valenciana staffers, Vicente Belda and Jose Ignacio Labarta.