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Preidler, Denifl receive four-year bans as part of Aderlass investigation

The UCI handed down four-year suspensions to Stefan Denifl and Georg Preidler for their involvement in the Operation Aderlass doping ring

Two Austrian riders — Georg Preidler and Stefan Denifl — linked to the ongoing blood doping investigation have received four-year bans, the UCI confirmed Thursday.

Preidler and Denifl are the first cyclists linked to the so-called Aderlass investigation to receive bans on the growing scandal that is centered on a wide-ranging blood-doping ring involving cross-country skiers and other endurance athletes.

The UCI signed off on the bans that were handed down by the Austrian anti-doping agency. Both bans will continue until March 2023.

Preidler, who was on Groupama-FDJ during that period, confessed to links to the doping investigation. His results from 2018 and into early 2019, which included the 2018 Austrian national time trial title and a stage in the 2018 Tour of Poland, will be disqualified.

Denifl’s disqualification of results runs from June 1, 2014 through March 5, 2019. During that period, Denifl racing on the Aqua Blue team won the Tour of Austria in 2017 ahead of Spanish rider Delio Fernandez (Delko Marseille Provence) and won stage 17 ahead of Alberto Contador at Los Machucos at the 2017 Vuelta a España.

Austrian and German authorities continue to investigate the Aderlass operation which involved Nordic skiers as well as some active and now-retired cyclists.

The UCI last month also suspended two other riders, Slovenian Kristijan Koren and Croatia’s Kristijan Durasek, while ex-Italian champion Alessandro Petacchi and Slovenia’s Borut Bozic were also cited by the UCI.

The ongoing investigation is focused on a sports doctor suspected of being at the centre of the network, Mark Schmidt, who was already implicated in previous doping cases in cycling. Arrested in February at his Erfurt offices in Germany, Schmidt is suspected of having helped dope at least 21 sportspeople of eight different nationalities from five sports, according to prosecutors in Munich.

>> Here if the full UCI statement:

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) takes note of the decisions rendered by the Legal committee of the Austrian National Anti-Doping Organisation (ÖADR) in the cases of Mr. Georg Preidler and Mr. Stefan Denifl which both stem from the Aderlass investigation.

The ÖADR found Mr. Preidler guilty of anti-doping rule violations for use of prohibited method in 2018 and imposed a 4-year period of ineligibility on the rider. The results obtained by Mr. Preidler between 1 February 2018 and 5 March 2019, date on which he has been provisionally suspended, are disqualified.

The same sanction (i.e. 4-year period of ineligibility) was imposed on Mr. Denifl for anti-doping rule violations of use of prohibited method from 1 June 2014 to end 2018. Likewise, the results obtained by Mr. Denifl between 1 June 2014 and 5 March 2019, date of the beginning of his provisional suspension, are disqualified.

Both sanctions will run from 5 March 2019 until 4 March 2023.

Both decisions can be appealed within four weeks before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Since it was agreed that the disciplinary proceedings would be conducted by the Austrian Anti-Doping Organization, the UCI will recognize these decisions, upon expiration of the deadline to appeal.

The UCI and the CADF will continue to cooperate with and assist all parties involved in the Aderlass investigations but, in view of the nature of the ongoing investigations, will not make any further comment at this stage.

— AFP contributed to this report