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German investigators used photos of star riders Primož Roglič and Tom Dumoulin as part of a photographic “lineup” to see if witnesses could recognize athletes linked to the ongoing Operation Aderlass investigation, a news report says.
Neither riders, it should be noted, are linked to the investigation.
German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which cites police sources, says that Austrian prosecutors used photographs of the two top GC riders, now teammates on Jumbo-Visma, to pool with photos from other athletes to see if key witnesses could identify riders who might have used the services of German doctor Mark Schmidt.
Authorities did not link either rider to the alleged blood-doping ring, and neither rider is listed as a witness or as an accused party, according to the report.
This latest report reveals the extent at how wide investigators were trying to cast their net ahead of legal proceedings and a trial in a Munich court.
Officials from Jumbo-Visma told the German newspaper that neither rider — Dumoulin was racing for Team Sunweb before joining Jumbo-Visma this season — had contact with Schmidt, or with anyone else associated with him. Neither rider has been contacted by authorities, the paper reports.
The story is the newest revelation in the ongoing investigation into the so-called Operation Aderlass, a blood-doping ring allegedly operated by Schmidt that was uncovered in early 2019. Authorities caught Nordic skiers re-injecting blood during the 2019 world championships, while police raided the Erfurt, Germany, offices of Schmidt, where files, blood bags, and other equipment was confiscated.
So far, several Nordic skiers as well as pro riders have been linked to what is the biggest blood-doping ring revealed by authorities in the past several years.
Georg Preidler, a former Dumoulin teammate at Sunweb until 2017, admitted working with Schmidt in 2019, when he was riding with Groupama-FDJ. Several other riders, including Slovenian riders Borut Bozic and Kristijan Koren, have both been handed down bans as part of Operation Aderlass.
The report suggests those links might have led investigators to believe the two top GC stars might have had some contact with Schmidt, a German doctor who worked with Gerolsteiner and Milram, two teams later engulfed with doping scandals.
Schmidt told authorities that he has fully revealed all of his clients across all sports that he worked with, suggesting that there should not be any further surprises. Other riders who have been linked to the investigation include Stefan Denifl, Alessandro Petacchi, Danilo Hondo, and Kristijan Durasek.