Marcos Maynar, the doctor at the heart of a Spanish anti-doping investigation, has publicly vouched for the innocence of Miguel Ángel López, whose alleged links to Maynar saw him fired by Astana Qazaqstan.
Speaking to Spanish news agency EFE (opens in new tab) ahead of a court appearance on Wednesday, Maynar apparently confirmed his links to López but said he’d only offered the Colombian nutritional support (as EFE put it) and “nothing more”.
However, he also suggested that he’d recommended the use of Actovegin, a controversial substance made from calves’ blood which is alleged to have been used for performance gain by Lance Armstrong and other cyclists.
Actovegin is not prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency, although it was briefly banned by the International Olympic Committee in 2000. It is most commonly injected, which would pose a risk under the UCI’s no-needle policy that requires medical authorisation for injections, but can also be administered orally.
At this stage, there is no indication that López has ever taken Actovegin, only that Maynar recommended its use.
“[It makes] the cardiac muscle suffer less during effort,” Maynar told EFE. “It’s not a substance that’s on the doping lists, so it’s not doping.”
Maynar was arrested in May and charged with crimes against public health, drug trafficking and money laundering. It was part of the Operación Ilex investigation into a suspected doping ring near Cáceres in the Extremadura region of Western Spain. Also implicated are the former team manager Vicente Belda and his son, who was working as a soigneur at Astana Qazaqstan and has also been dismissed.
Maynar protested his own innocence when speaking to EFE outside the courtroom in Cáceres on Wednesday on the latest stage of the hearing, but he also protested that of López.
“For other athletes, I wouldn’t put my hand in the fire, but for this guy [López], I would put my hand in the fire that he has never used banned substances in his life.”
López is still understood to be planning legal action against Astana Qazaqstan for unfair dismissal, stating that his sacking had “no cause, and that there are no new facts which could justify such decision.”
“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,” continued the statement released by López in December.
López has since…
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