Former professional cyclist Danilo Hondo has been sacked by the Swiss Cycling Federation after confessing to blood doping during his career.
The German has been dismissed without notice from his role as a national coach by the federation after the 45-year-old confessed to being involved in the Erfurt blood doping scandal on German television.
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Hondo said on German broadcaster ARD: “I informed the cycling federation on Sunday morning. Everyone was shocked. I have to say – and this has been on my mind all night – I had this moment of weakness. I made the biggest mistake of my life and agreed to this thing.
“I am aware that there will be no professional future for me in cycling. Neither at Swiss Cycling, nor in any other form in sport, especially as I am officially a repeat offender. I’m now being punished for mistakes in my past.”
The Erfurt blood doping scandal has erupted from a long-standing investigation into a German sports doctor, Mark Schmidt, who ran a doping ring from the city.
Hondo, who initially denied the allegations over the weekend, paid €30,000 annually for Schmidt’s services, and has apparently been named by the doctor who is currently being questioned in custody.
The German worked as an under-23 coach at Swiss Cycling from the start of 2015, taking up a position as an elite coach in 2016, and has spoken on his decision to confess.
“Since I am now working as a national coach in Switzerland, dealing with lots of young riders and, in recent years, being very active in the prevention of doping, it was relatively clear.
“If I get involved in this case, I have to stand by to continue what I have been doing in recent years as a non-active professional cyclist. It would have been wrong if I had tried to escape my responsibilities by legal means, and that’s the only way I can send a clear signal to my athletes.”
Thomas Peter, the technical director of Swiss Cycling, said: “We decided to give Danilo a second chance. We were convinced of his qualities as a coach and we still are today. We are deeply disappointed and have to digest this message first.”
Police raided 16 properties in February as they began to uncover the scandal, arresting nine people in connection with blood doping in the Nordic skiing World Championships in Austria.
In the days afterwards, former pro Stefan Denifl confessed to blood doping in a police interview and Groupama-FDJ’s Georg Preidler quit the French team after he was implicated and admitted to blood doping.
In 2005, Danilo Hondo was banned for one year, a ban that was later lengthened to two years, after testing positive for carphendon at the Vuelta a Murcia.
Hondo won two stages of the Giro in 2001 and the German road race championships in 2002. He says his involvement with Schmidt dates from 2011 until the end of his career in 2014, a period where he recorded no major wins for his Lampre team.