MOSCOW, February 20 (R-Sport) – The Katusha cycling team has suspended Spanish rider Angel Vicioso for failing to appear at a high-profile doping trial in his home country - and lying about the fact that it had been settled - the team's general manager told R-Sport on Wednesday.
Vicioso is among at least three dozen people accused of being in the doping network of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, who is currently on trial in the so-called Operation Puerto case. Fuentes denies charges of endangering public health.
Vicioso, 35, had been due to testify in Madrid on Tuesday but failed to show up. He had refused to attend earlier hearings, citing health problems.
“Vicioso is suspended from competition,” Katusha general manager Vyacheslav Ekimov said.
“I asked him whether he would go to the court to give testimony, but he assured me that he had settled the issue, called the official representative and provided all the required documents, but it’s not true,” Ekimov said.
“This really discredits our image."
In December, the International Cycling Union (UCI) cited inadequate doping controls and financial instability at Katusha as reasons for refusing the world's No. 2-ranked team a World Tour spot.
The team protested the decision and overturned it at the Court of Arbitration for Sport last week, but only after missing January’s World Tour opener, the Tour Down Under in Australia.
“We now try to cooperate with the UCI in every possible way, providing all the protocols on our work inside the team, and such behavior is absolutely inexcusable,” Ekimov said.
Operation Puerto is the code name of high-profile case started in 2006 that revealed Fuentes' doping network in cycling, and potentially other sports.
The investigation has led to the suspensions of 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich; 2009 Vuelta a Espana winner Alejandro Valverde; and 2006 and 2010 Giro d'Italia champion Ivan Basso, among others.