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Miguel Ángel López Suspended for Four Years Following Anti-Doping Violation

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Miguel Ángel López Suspended for Four YearsMaximiliano Blanco - Getty Images

Cycling’s governing body announced in a press release this Wednesday that Miguel Ángel López has been found guilty of an anti-doping rule violation for the use and possession of a prohibited substance, Menotropin. The violation occurred leading up to the 2022 Giro d’Italia. Nicknamed "Superman López," the 30-year-old had been riding with Astana Qazaqstan until 2022, and last year, he rode with Colombian Continental team Medellín-EPM.

The UCI has imposed a four-year suspension on the Colombian rider. In accordance with the World Anti-Doping Code and the UCI Anti-Doping Rules, the period of the suspension started July 25, 2023, and will remain in force until July 24, 2027. López can appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport within one month, though it is unclear if he will do so.

Menotropin is a drug commonly used in fertility medicine. It is a class S2.2 substance, which covers ‘Peptide Hormones and their releasing factors’.

GCN reported that the ban marks a decisive moment in a long-running case that first emerged in 2022 when López was linked to a doping ring uncovered in an investigation by Spanish police and anti-doping authorities, dubbed Operactón Ilex. By the end of the year, López’s contract with the Astana Qazaqstan team was terminated due to his connections with Marcos Maynar, the doctor at the center of the probe.

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Miguel Angel Lopez of Astana Pro Team celebrating a win during the 107th Tour de France 2020, Stage 17.Pool - Getty Images

López returned to Colombia to ride for the Medellin EPM team in 2023, where he found huge success, winning the Vuelta a San Juan and then taking nine out of 10 stages at the Vuelta a Colombia.

GCN also reported that the ban was celebrated by the International Testing Agency (ITA), an external body brought in to replace the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation in running testing and investigations for cycling in 2021, a move that divided opinion. The ban for López is based on investigative work rather than a single positive doping test, although it’s unclear how the ITA established the ‘use’ part of the verdict beyond the ‘possession’ element. The ITA highlighted the importance of intelligence-sharing between the ITA, National Anti-Doping Organisations, and law enforcement authorities. Read ITA’s statement here.

López has previously won stages on the Tour de France and Vuelta a España and is a past winner of the Tour de Suisse and the Volta a Catalunya.

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