4th March 2019

Two Austrian cyclists implicated in Seefeld doping investigation

Two Austrian cyclists have been implicated in doping investigations that last week resulted in the arrest of five athletes and four members of an alleged doping network in Austria and Germany. It is understood that Stefan Denifl confessed to doping after being questioned by police late last week; and Georg Preidler handed himself in to police over the weekend.

The Groupama-FDJ cycling team confirmed that Preidler had tendered his resignation on 3 March. ‘The rider – who joined the team one year ago – admitted that he performed a blood collection on two occasions at the end of last year’, read a statement.

It is understood that Denifl was interviewed as part of investigations into athletes that had worked with doctor Mark Schmidt, who was arrested last week in Germany, alongside an accomplice. Dr. Schmidt worked with the Gerolsteiner cycling team, which folded at the end of the 2008 season after two of its riders – Stefan Schumacher and Bernhard Kohl – tested positive for CERA, an erythropoiesis-stimulating agent (ESA). 

The Austrian anti-doping commission (ÖADR) announced that Dominik Baldauf and Max Hauke have been provisionally suspended. The cross country skiers were two of the five athletes arrested last week. Austria’s Federal Criminal Police (Bundeskriminalamt, or BK) announced that officers responsible for leaking a video of Hauke, who was caught red handed whilst conducting a blood transfusion, have been removed from the case and would be disciplined.

The Estonian Ski Association (ESA) said that the two implicated athletes falling under its jurisdiction, Karel Tammjärv and Andreas Veerpalu, had confessed their guilt to their coach, Anti Saarepuu. ‘For years, the aforementioned athletes have trained in a separate way from the Estonian Ski Association’, read a statement. There is no indication that Saarepuu is involved. 

The Cross Country Skiing Federation of Kazakhstan (CCSF) said it has yet to receive notification from the Austrian government, the international ski federation (FIS), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) confirming charges against the fifth arrested athlete, Alexey Poltoranin. “All our efforts are directed at clarifying the circumstances of the arrest of Kazakhstan’s leading skier”, said Chairman of the Committee for Sports and Physical Education, Serik Sapiev, in a statement. “We are always in favour of ‘pure sport’ and until it is proven that Alexey really used prohibited substances and methods, we will protect our athletes”.

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