Groupama-FDJ rider Georg Preidler quits team over blood doping

The Austrian extracted blood with the intention of later re-infusing it to boost performance

Georg Preidler during stage 11 of the 2018 Vuelta a España (Photo: Yuzuru SUNADA)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

A second rider has been implicated in the unfolding blood doping scandal, this time Groupama-FDJ’s Georg Preidler.

The Austrian has quit the team after he admitted to extracting blood to re-infuse it at a later date.

Preidler announced his “spontaneous and immediate” resignation to the French WorldTour team on Sunday (March 3), having pulled out of the weekend’s racing.

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In a statement released on Monday morning, Groupama said: “[We were] informed on March 3 by the Austrian Georg Preidler of his spontaneous and immediate resignation, justified by his inexcusable involvement in the so-called ‘Seefeld’ case.

“The rider, who joined the team one year ago, admitted to having blood drawn twice at the end of 2018.”

Preidler is the second Austrian pro rider linked with the police investigation into doping in endurance skiing.

Stefan Denifl, formerly of Aqua Blue Sport, admitted to blood doping in a police interview, according to Austrian media.

The scandal began to unravel last week, when police raided 16 properties and arrested nine people in connection with blood doping in the Nordic skiing World Championships in Seefeld, Austria.

Police operations were carried out in Seefeld and in Erfurt, Germany and 40 blood bags were seized.

A number of skiers were arrested, alongside German doctor Mark Schmidt who was linked to the former Gerolsteiner cycling team.

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Gerolsteiner folded in 2008 after a number of doping scandals.

Video footage emerged after the raids, showing Austrian skier Max Hauke allegedly being interrupted by police in the middle of a blood transfusion.

While investigating the doctor police encountered Denifl, according to Austrian media.

Preidler joined WorldTour racing with Argos-Shimano in 2013, moving to Groupama-FDJ in 2018.

He has been Austrian national time trial champion three times and won a stage of the Tour of Poland last year.

Groupama-FDJ added: “[The team] deeply regrets this individual wrongdoing and is already collaborating with the authorities.

“Groupama-FDJ cycling team, whose ethics have always been a foundation, stays determined in its will to prevent any individual misconduct.

“The team regrets this case but preserves its trust in all of the team members and will remain inflexible in terms of ethics.”