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Miguel Ángel López handed four-year doping ban for “use and possession” of human growth hormone during 2022 Giro d’Italia

The mercurial Colombian climber, who was sacked by Astana over his links to alleged doping doctor Marcos Maynar, will not be able to return to competition until July 2027

Tour de France stage winner and grand tour podium finisher Miguel Ángel López has been slapped with a four-year suspension by the UCI, after the world governing body’s Anti-Doping Tribunal ruled that the 30-year-old was guilty of possessing and using the human growth hormone menotropin during the 2022 Giro d’Italia, which López abandoned on stage four.

The mercurial Colombian climber was sacked by Astana – the team he represented for seven of his eight seasons as a professional in Europe – in December 2022 after the Kazakh squad claimed that it “had discovered new elements” linking him to alleged doping doctor Marcos Maynar.

These “new elements”, Spanish newspaper ABC reported at the time, relate to a document claiming that López received a dose of menotropin, a human growth hormone that increases muscle mass and eliminate fluids, before the start of the 2022 Giro in Hungary.

> Miguel Angel Lopez being investigated as part of doping probe in Spain

López was initially, and briefly, suspended by Astana in July 2022 after reports first emerged that the Colombian was being investigated for his alleged involvement in a drug trafficking ring in Spain, led by physiologist Maynar, who was arrested two months before and charged with crimes against public health, drug trafficking, and money laundering as part of the Spanish police’s Operation Ilex investigation.

López was welcomed back into the Astana fold a few weeks later, however, and finished fourth overall at last year’s Vuelta a España.

He was eventually sacked when the fresh allegations emerged in December of his “probable links” to Maynar, and spent much of the start of 2023 dominating the South American racing scene for Team Medellín–EPM, before the UCI provisionally suspended him from action in July.

Miguel Angel Lopez on his way to winning Stage 17 of the 2020 Tour de France (picture credit Alex Whitehead SWpix.com)

(Alex Whitehead SWpix.com)

According to a UCI statement today, the disciplinary proceedings against López, who enjoyed an ill-fated spell with Movistar in 2021, were initiated in the wake of an investigation conducted by the International Testing Agency (ITA).

The ITA’s investigation was based on evidence obtained from the Spanish Guardia Civil and the Spanish Anti-Doping Organisation (CELAD) as part of its Operation Ilex digging into the alleged doping programme run by Maynar.

López, who has always maintained his innocence, has a month to appeal his ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

> Miguel Angel López victim of kidnap and robbery

After he was dismissed by Astana in December 2022, López described his sacking as “a clear case of abusive termination without just cause” and maintained that he has “never tested positive”.

“The rider hereby informs that he considers such decision as with no cause, and that there are no new facts which could justify such decision, not known or reported before November 2022 by Astana Team,” a statement prepared by his lawyers said at the time.

“The rider rejects any allegation that could damage his name and honour as professional rider, and reminds that he has never tested positive for any drugs or doping, nor has he been investigated by any authority.

“Mr. Miguel Angel Lopez hereby informs that he will defend his rights before the corresponding Courts, in a case which he understands as a clear case of abusive termination without just cause.”

Miguel Angel Lopez at 2021 Vuelta - Copyright ASO, PhotoGomezSport

> UCI may hit Lopez with fine or disqualification for punching fan during Giro d'Italia

One of the outstanding climbers of his generation, López has won three stages of the Vuelta a España, a race he has finished third, fourth, fifth, and eighth at on GC during his career.

In 2020, López – known as ‘Superman’ – also won a stage of the Tour de France on the Col de la Loze, the highest point of that year’s race, and in 2018 finished on the podium of both the Vuelta and the Giro d’Italia. He has also secured overall wins at the Volta a Catalunya and Tour de Suisse.

Miguel Angel Lopez and spectator.PNG

However, the 30-year-old has been viewed as a mercurial, often temperamental, character throughout his career in Europe. At the 2019 Giro, he attracted controversy after repeatedly hitting a fan who caused him to crash on one of the race’s climbs.

And at the 2021 Vuelta, he endured a very public falling out with his Movistar team, abandoning the race on its penultimate stage in protest against the team’s tactics, despite starting the day in third place overall.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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3 comments

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Gd29 | 3 weeks ago
1 like

Road.cc has omitted that the CAS ruled just a few weeks ago that there was insufficient evidence of doping by Lopez and so ruled in his favour in an appeal against Astana for withholding his wages for doping.
Ok so that may have been a contractual dispute and UCIs anti-doping threshold may be different, but road.cc should do some journalism as it has failed to convey the complexity of the matter.

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Destroyer666 replied to Gd29 | 2 weeks ago
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Indeed, would've much rather seen that in this article, than yet again an ending of anecnodtal references to past issues that have little or nothing to do with the main story.

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Secret_squirrel | 3 weeks ago
4 likes

Do any of the of current doping products have anger management issues as a side effect?   Asking for my Columbian cousin.

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