Cycling hit by new blood doping case

According to information from the "World", two new riders in activity and a sports director are involved in the case "Aderlass", which has revealed in Germany an organized doping network.

By Clément Guillou Posted today at 10:15

Time to Reading 4 min.

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Slovenia's Kristjan Koren of the Bahrain-Merida team in Cholet during the Tour de France 2018.
Slovenian Kristjan Koren from the Bahrain-Merida team in Cholet during the Tour de France 2018. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP

For cycling, the "Operation Aderlass" will not be a new "Puerto case", named after the doping case in Spain that unmasked several stars of the peloton in 2007. Since the arrest, February 27 in Erfurt (Thüringe), a German doctor, Mark Schmidt, suspected of leading an organized doping network, the pack bursts with rumors about the involvement of big names in cycling. Within a week, Austrians Stefan Denifl (CCC) and Georg Preidler (Groupama-FDJ) admitted having been in contact with the doctor, and sources close to the investigation told World the involvement of other cyclists.

But the big housekeeping hoped by some will probably not take place: according to the information of the World and Corriere della Sera, only two other cyclists active in the World Tour, the world's first division, are suspected at this stage of having benefited from autologous blood transfusions, an undetectable doping method, from Dr. Mark Schmidt. They are Croatian Kristijan Durasek and Slovenian Kristjan Koren.

These two riders occupy the role of team-mates within, respectively, UAE-Emirates and Bahrain-Merida teams, teams that are predominantly Italian but financed by Gulf funds. Koren finished the Tour de France eight times, Durasek is supposed to go there for the sixth time this summer.

A third man active in the World Tour is in the sights of the investigators: it is the Slovenian Borut Bozic, former sprinter of good level and stage winner on the Tour of Spain. He has been reconverted this season as sports director of the Bahrain-Merida team, for which he ran for the past two years.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also "Aderlass", a blood doping network on a European scale

"Abnormal physiological results"

These three riders from Eastern Europe have in common to be passed by the small Slovenian team Perutnina Ptuj, in the 2000s. Since the case broke out, all continue to run and lead in their respective teams. Kristjan Koren has been engaged since Saturday 11 May in the Tour of Italy, where he attends the Italian star Vincenzo Nibali. Durasek, meanwhile, is competing on the California Tour.

Contacted on the Tour of Italy, Bahrain-Merida team manager Alex Carera and his UAE-Emirates counterpart Mauro Gianetti could not be reached on Wednesday, May 15, early in the morning.

On Tuesday 14 May, the UAE team has already dismissed a Tour of Italy rider, Colombian Juan Sebastian Molano, due to "Abnormal physiological results". The UAE team is also the heiress of the Lampre, where sprinters Danilo Hondo and Alessandro Petacchi evolved the years they are suspected of having collaborated with Mark Schmidt.

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