Gert Steegmans and Team Katusha may have terminated their contract effective immediately after the Belgian refused to sign the team's anti-doping charter prior to the Tour de France. Media reports today indicated that the relationship was over, but the team has now it.
Team manager Andre Tchmil "said that there has not been a contract annument," team press spokesman Andrea Agostini told Cyclingnews. "Steegmans was near our headquarters during the Tour de France, but did not take the opportunity to meet and clarify his position."
The team put Steegmans on inactive status in late June when he refused to agree to the new requirement, which requires riders to pay five times their salary should they break anti-doping rules.
Steegmans had no comment on the matter.
The 28-year-old has not ridden for the Russian team since the Dauphiné Libéré in June. The team placed him on inactive status when he refused to sign a contract which would require him to pay a fine of up to six times his annual salary if he were convicted of a doping violation.
Several riders objected to the new requirement, but most eventually signed. Kenny Dehaes refused, and was released from his contract in June. He later signed with the Silence-Lotto team.
"Gert never wanted to sign our anti-doping charter," Katusha Sport Director Jef Braeckevelt told the Belga press agency. "I think this is a good thing for both parties. He can now look forward to a new team where he can ride again. We don't need to pay him any longer for not riding."
Steegmans had two wins this season for Katusha, the first at the Trofeo Mallorca and the second in a stage of the Vuelta a Andalucia.
The sprinter turned pro in 2002 with Lotto, where he remained until he joined Quick Step for the 2007 and 2008 seasons. He has won two stages in the Tour de France in his career including the final stage on the Champs Elysée in 2008.
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