4th November 2021

Pirmin Lang has already served 18 month ‘Operation Aderlass’ ban

Pirmin Lang, the former professional cyclist who confessed to being part of the ‘Operation Aderlass’ blood doping network orchestrated by Dr. Mark Schmidt, has been sanctioned with a backdated 18 month ban that expired on 19 August this year. ‘As part of the extensive investigations, Pirmin Lang made an extensive confession’, read a statement from Anti-Doping Switzerland. ‘He confirmed to Anti-Doping Switzerland the procurement, use and possession of prohibited substances, the use of autologous blood doping in several cases and attempted mediation with suppliers of doping substances. 

‘Due to the full confession and cooperation of Mr. Lang, the ban was reduced, so that the former athlete was banned for 18 instead of 24 months. The suspension has been in effect since 19 February 2020, the beginning of the provisional suspension.’

Anti-Doping Switzerland said that it had applied its ‘leniency policy’ to Lang’s  sanction, due to the substantial assistance he provided to both Anti-Doping Switzerland and law enforcement. At the trial of Dr. Mark Schmidt in January this year, Anti-Doping Switzerland investigators passed details to NADA Deutschland about a conversation between Pirmin Lang and Björn Thurau, a former professional cyclist and presenter on the Global Cycling Network’s GCN auf Deutsch, which launched in January last year. 

The conversation was about delivery of doping substances, reporters for ARD’s Sportschau revealed. Thurau was sanctioned with a nine year and six month ban in September this year.

Lang retired in February 2020 after admitting being part of the blood doping network operated by Dr. Schmidt, which was the subject of the ‘Operation Aderlass’ investigations. In August this year, Lang became the first athlete to be sentenced under 2012’s Swiss Sports Promotion Act (SpoFöG), receiving a small fine. 

Dr. Schmidt was sentenced to four years and ten months in prison in January. In 2019, German State prosecutor Kai Gräber told a press conference that 21 athletes from eight countries, competing in five sports, were suspected of being involved in Operation Aderlass. 

The Sports Integrity Initiative has identified 21 athletes from eight countries, competing in three sports (cycling, cross country skiing, and triathlon) who have been sanctioned for their involvement in Operation Aderlass to date (see table below). Danilo Hondo has confessed his involvement, however it is understood that proceedings are ongoing in his case.

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