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UCI suspends Preidler and Denifl as pro cycling gives opinion on confessions

Pinot calls Preidler's actions a 'betrayal' while Kittel calls for further support of younger athletes

Joe Robinson
5 Mar 2019

Austrian duo Georg Preidler and Stefan Denifl have been provisionally suspended by the UCI after confessing to blood doping offences.

The UCI had originally called for further information following the statement from both riders. The governing body confirmed that this had happened and that there was sufficient information to hand both riders a provisional suspension.

'After review of all elements in its possession, the UCI has decided to provisionally suspend both riders with immediate effect pursuant to Article 7.9.3 of the UCI Anti-Doping Rules,' read the UCI's statement.

'The UCI will assist the Austrian National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADA) in the conduct of the disciplinary proceedings against Mr Preidler and Mr Denifl by NADA and will support all involved parties in the ongoing investigations. The UCI will not comment further on any of these matters.'

On Sunday, Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung revealed that former Aqua Blue Sport rider Stefan Denifl had confessed to police that he had blood doped during his career.

The same day, Groupama-FDJ rider Georg Preidler also admitted to blood doping violations. The Austrian confirmed that he had drawn blood with the eventual intention of reinfusing in order to boost performance. While the rider did not actually blood dope, he stated himself that 'the fraudulent intent' was already a crime.

Both of these revelations link to the wider 'Operation Aderlass' investigation which is currently looking into the practices of sports doctor, Dr Mark Schmidt.

This saw five Nordic skiers arrested at last week's World Championships in Seedeld, Austria, including Max Hauke who was caught on camera by police allegedly administering a blood transfusion.

Schmidt is the former doctor of the Gerolsteiner team and was accused of facilitating the doping of Bernhard Kohl after his positive test for EPO in 2008, although he was cleared.

Police have also confirmed that Operation Aderlass has recovered 40 blood bags from Schmidt's garage in Erfurt, Germany, and that the doctor is willing to cooperate with the investigations. The police have already put out a request to athletes to come forward before being caught.

As for the cycling world, the confessions of both Preidler and Denifl have come as a surprise to those within the sport.

Preidler's FDJ teammate Thibaut Pinot called the act a 'betrayal' while team manager Marc Madiot commented that the 'present situation confirms once again that we need to remain vigilant'.

Marcel Kittel, who grew up in the town of Erfurt, has also called for coaches and management to better help riders deal with the 'temptation' of doping from a younger age although realised the complication with many sport directors having previously been implemented in past doping scandals.

Team manager of CCC Team, Jim Ochowicz, told Cyclingnews that he was shocked by Denifl's confession as there had been no 'red flags' surrounding the rider's biopassport when the team had agreed to sign him at the end of 2018.

Denifl and CCC Team eventually terminated the contract on Christmas Eve citing 'personal reasons'.

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