Operation Aderlass: UCI orders retest of samples from 2016-17

Governing body's move suggests specific riders are suspected of involvement in blood doping ring...

The UCI has asked the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation to retest samples taken during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, following receipt of information and documents received from law enforcement authorities in Austria as part of the Operation Aderlass anti-doping investigation.

The investigation, which first hit the headlines when a number of arrests were made at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Asustria in February, is centred around the Erfurt-based German sports doctor Mark Schmidt, formerly team doctor with Gerolsteiner.

That team’s former rider, convicted doper Bernard Kohl, had accused Schmidt as long ago as 2009 of having organised the team’s blood doping programme.

The UCI’s statement published yesterday evening suggests that samples from specific individuals are being targeted for retesting. The governing body said:

In light of information and documents received from Austrian law enforcement authorities in the Aderlass affair, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announces that it has asked the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF) to proceed with necessary reanalyses of samples taken during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

During the Aderlass investigation, and thanks to close collaboration between the UCI and Austrian authorities, several procedures have been initiated for anti-doping rule violation. Several individuals, most of them active at the highest level, have now been sanctioned.

The UCI would like to thank all the authorities working on this investigation and will continue to work closely with the parties concerned with the aim of protecting honest athletes and guaranteeing a clean sport.

The UCI will make no further comment at this stage.

A number of cyclists have already been sanctioned as a result of the Operation Aderlass (the codename is German for 'bloodletting').

Austrian cyclists Stefan Denifl and Georg Preidler and the Croatian, Kristijan Durasek, have all received four-year bans, while Slovenian riders Kristijan Koren and Borut Bozic were both banned for two years.

The highest profile rider involved in the investigation to date is the Italian Alessandro Petacchi, winner of Milan-San Remo and the points jersey at all three Grand Tours. Now retired, he received a two-year ban in August.

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.

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