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'Without doping, I wouldn't have got a contract': Stefan Denifl stands trial

Joe Robinson
4 Feb 2020

Austrian rider trying to argue that teams knew of his doping practices

Banned rider Stefan Denifl has admitted to doping for a five-year period, claiming he would not have been given a contract riding clean. The Austrian, who was handed a four-year ban by the UCI for blood doping in 2019, is currently facing charges of commercial sports fraud in Innsbruck, Austria.

Under oath, the 32-year-old confirmed that he worked with German doctor Mark Schmidt, the figure at the centre of the Operation Aderlass blood doping ring, from 2014 to 2018.

So far, six road cyclists have been impicated in the ring with all being handed bans from the UCI. Alongside Denifl, the other riders are George Preidler, Kristijan Durasek, Alessandro Petacchi, Borut Bozic and Kristijan Koren.

Denifl is the first cyclist implemented in the Operation Alderlass scandal to stand criminal trial for his five-year relationship with Schmidt.

During that time, Denifl rode for IAM Cycling and Aqua Blue Sport, winning the Tour of Austria and Stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana for the latter, results he has since been stripped of.

Denifl told the court that he had started doping as a means of returning to his former level following a knee injury .

'I wouldn't have gotten a contract without doping,' Denifl told the court. 'I am not a criminal' he added, claiming that teams knew that riders were doping.

Prosecutors claim Denifl's salary and bonuses earned during this time results to around €580,000 in damages and, if proven guilty of sports fraud, the former rider could face a jail sentence of up to 10 years.

Importantly, Denifl is attempting to prove that his teams were aware of his doping practices and therefore was not defrauding them with his actions. 

Yesterday, the trial adjourned after Denifl's defence lawyer called upon representatives of the teams that hired him as witnesses, something the court said could take some time.

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