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Two Austrian Cyclists Suspended for Four Years in Operation Aderlass

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The professional cyclists were among over 20 athletes in 5 sports linked to a German doping doctor.

Stefan Denifl and Georg Preidler, two professional cyclists from Austria, have each been suspended for four years after being linked to an international blood doping ring operated by German doctor Mark Schmidt. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announced the suspensions on June 27, 2019.

Denifl, who previously competed with the Aqua Blue Sports Team, took advantage of blood doping services from as early as June 2014 until the end of 2018. Preidler, who most recently competed with the Groupama-FDJ WorldTour team, only recently used the services between February and December 2018.

The Operation Aderlass doping scandal involved athletes from several sports and multiple countries.
Denifl and Preidler admitted to doping following their arrests in connection with Operation Aderlass. The two men are among 21 athletes and 6 cyclists linked to the blood doping scandal. Retired Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi is another cyclist allegedly implicated.

Operation Aderlass was the codename for a criminal investigation that targeted doping at the 2019 International Ski Federation Nordic World Ski Championships on February 27, 2019. The Austrian Federal Police (Bundespolizei) raided a hotel room at an Austrian resort in Seefield and found 5 athletes undergoing blood transfusions.

The Operation Aderlass doping scandal gained widespread press coverage after the unauthorized leak of video from the raid surfaced on the Internet. The video showed Austrian cross-country skier Max Hauke with a needle in his arm during the middle of a blood transfusion. The “deer-in-the-headlights” express on Hauke’s face became fodder for numerous jokes.

Additional athletes from several other countries could face sanctions and other repercussions from the scandal. Dr. Schmidt reportedly provided blood doping services to clients from eight different countries including Austria, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United States.

Preidler and Denifli will both be eligible to return to competition on March 4, 2023.
 

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