There is “growing evidence” of professional cyclists being involved in the blood doping probe centred on the Nordic World Ski Championships in Austria last month.
After five athletes were arrested at that event, Groupama-FDJ rider Georg Priedler and Stefan Denifl, who had been due to join CCC for this season but rescinded his contract in December, both admitted to doping.
The pair, who are both Austrian, were also arrested as part of the investigation and have been provisionally suspended by the UCI after saying that they doped with the help of German doctor Mark Schmidt, who formerly worked for the Gerolsteiner team and is one of five non-athletes arrested.
The doping ring is alleged to have been based in Germany, and according a tweet from the reporter Hajo Seppelt at the broadcaster ARD, there is “Growing evidence that cyclists from teams participating in Tour de France could be involved in the recent German/Austrian doping affair with the doping doctor‘s network from Erfurt/Thuringia.”
According to Munich state prosecutor Kai Graeber, 21 athletes have been linked to the scandal to date, belonging to three winter and two summer sports, reports BBC Sport.
Outlining the scale of the suspected doping operation, he said: “There are three-figure cases of blood being taken out and then being reintroduced worldwide, in Germany, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Croatia, Slovenia and Hawaii,” Graeber said.
He added that more details were continuing to come to light, hinting that further revelations are likely, saying: “We have here an exciting story with a lot of twists and the final chapter has not yet been written.”
The latest arrest was made in Erfurt on Monday of a person with no medical training who is believed to have transported blood and carried out blood transfusions.
According to Graeber, the suspect does not have any medical training and “instead learned to inject on the principle of learning by doing.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.