The Astana Qazaqstan team has ended Miguel Angel López’s suspension from racing, with the Colombian now expected to ride this week’s Vuelta a Burgos and the Vuelta a España, which starts on August 19.
López was suspended by Astana Qazaqstan on July 22 after reports in Spain suggested he is under investigation for links to Dr. Marcos Maynar Mariño, who was arrested in May for alleged crimes of drug trafficking and money laundering.
Via his lawyers, who spoke to the Spanish Efe news agency, López denied any wrongdoing. While the investigation is still ongoing, Astana Qazaqstan have been obliged to end López’s suspension.
“Based on the information received, Astana Qazaqstan Team was advised that in the absence of any finding by either the Spanish authorities or the UCI, it was not in a position to continue the suspension or further deprive the rider of his contractual rights. Miguel Ángel López is thus provisionally reintegrated as part of Astana Qazaqstan Team and will return to the previously agreed racing plan (Vuelta a Burgos and then Vuelta a España),” the team said on Monday.
Astana Qazaqstan claimed they know nothing about the investigation or a report by the Ciclo21.com website that López was stopped and questioned by the Central Operational Unit (UCO), part of the Judicial Police Service of the Spanish Civil Guard on his arrival in Madrid from Colombia.
Maynar was arrested on May 11th, one day after López’s surprise withdrawal from the Giro d’Italia due to a thigh injury. At the time the Astana Qazaqstan team said they were surprised by his decision to climb early in stage 4 to Etna. Maynar was arrested but freed on bail in May, with a court hearing expected in the autumn.
López has not ridden since the Giro d’Italia but is now expected to lead Astana Qazaqstan at the Vuelta a Espana.
López returned to Astana Qazaqstan after a controversial season at Movistar, where he quit the Vuelta a Espana while third overall after a dispute during stage 20 about team leadership. However Astana Qazaqstan warned that López could be suspended again depending on how the police investigation develops.
“Astana Qazaqstan Team has forwarded all the information received to the International Testing Agency, which is in charge of anti-doping investigations on behalf of the UCI. The Team will monitor the situation closely and will not hesitate to take resolute measures depending on the development of the situation,” the team said.
The five-day Vuelta a Burgos begins on Tuesday and is considered as a key preparatory race for the Vuelta a Espana.
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.