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Report: Preidler confesses as Austrian doping scandal snags more cyclists

Austrian TT champion had worked with doctor at the center of new doping investigation

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A second Austrian cyclists has confessed to being part of a blood doping ring based in Germany that is the target of an international investigation. Georg Preidler reportedly admitted his wrongdoing to police over the weekend, before quitting  French WorldTour team Groupana-FDJ.

Preidler, 28, told police that he extracted blood twice last fall, but insisted he never re-injected himself ahead of competition. Groupama-FDJ, which hired him in 2018, said it immediately released the Austrian from his contract.

“I filed a doping confession,” Preidler said in an interview with the Austrian daily Krone. “I had my blood taken out but never re-injected it. But that is already a crime. The last days were a nightmare. I did not sleep, did not eat anymore. I do not know if I would have been convicted. I do not know how and if this doping doctor has encrypted everything. But I could not live with this secret anymore.”

Preidler’s admission is the latest in a shocking scandal that is sweeping across Austrian sport. The three-time Austrian national time trial champion decided to confess following a wave of arrests involving Nordic skiers. Ex-pro Stefan Denifl also confessed to police over the weekend.

Preidler, who joined the WorldTour in 2013 with Argos-Shimano, signed with Groupama-FDJ in 2018. He won stage 6 at the Tour of Poland last year and raced the Tour du Haut Var in February. His 10-year pro career included stints with Team Type 1-Sanofil, and Tyrol Team, among others.

Groupama-FDJ, which is a member of cycling’s anti-doping group MPCC, said it had contacted the French anti-doping agency, the MPCC, and the UCI following Preidler’s admission. The team released a statement following Preidler’s admission.

“Given the seriousness of the facts which are in total opposition to the ethical principles still defended by the team and its sponsors Groupama and FDJ, Marc Madiot accepted his resignation effective immediately,” a team statement read. “The team regrets this case but preserves its trust in all of the team members and will remain inflexible in terms of ethics.”

The team said it was collaborating with the authorities.

Preidler, a triple Austrian time-trial champion, said that he had been sought out by the doping ring and had only started doping “recently,” insisting that his professional successes had been “clean”.

“It was the biggest mistake of my life,” Preidler said. “These people approach you. All of my successes, including the Giro, were clean. I had success without doping, which is interesting. You always have pressure to perform, find contracts and worry about your job. At some point, the inhibition disappears. The doctors assure you that you will never get caught. It’s like a shell game. You know it’s a scam, but you play along.”

The admission is the latest to rock Austrian sport and is part of a growing scandal is moving beyond Nordic skiing to include cycling.

Preidler was not among six athletes arrested last week in a probe into an international doping ring but “couldn’t live with this secret any longer,” he told the Kronen newspaper, and handed himself in to police in Graz.

Five skiers and another cyclist were held as part of investigation into an alleged doping ring based in Germany and led by a 40-year-old sports doctor named as ‘Mark S’.

AFP contributed to this report

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