The trial of Mark Schmidt, the former Gerolsteiner and Milram team doctor at the centre of the Operation Aderlass investigation, has begun in Munich. Inside the Games reports that he and four co-defendants are accused of helping at least 23 athletes undergo blood transfusions.
Operation Aderlass first hit the headlines in February 2019 when a number of arrests were made at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Austria following admissions by cross-country skier Johannes Dürr.
Several cyclists have since been sanctioned as a result of the investigation, the highest profile being Italian Alessandro Petacchi – winner of Milan-San Remo and the points jersey at all three Grand Tours – who received a two-year ban in August last year.
Kristijan Durasek, Kristijan Koren, Borut Božič, Georg Preidler and Stefan Denifl have also been banned, while former Swiss pro Pirmin Lang left the team he founded after admitting his involvement.
Last week we reported how Operation Aderlass had uncovered a new doping product and the names of several professional riders thought to have used it.
A synthetic form of haemoglobin, H7379 Haemoglobin Human boosts oxygen transfer around the body.
The use of H7379 was picked up following last month’s arrest of a Croatian who is believed to have supplied the drug to Schmidt.
The supplier also provided the names of several cyclists believed to have been microdosing with it during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, which have now been passed on to the UCI.
Late last year, the UCI asked the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation to retest samples taken during the 2016 and 2017 seasons following receipt of information and documents from Operation Aderlass.
It is thought that these samples will now be specifically tested for H7379.
Schmidt’s trial is expected to run until December 21.