The doctor at the centre of the Operation Aderlass doping scandal has been jailed by a German court.
Mark Schmidt had been found guilty of 24 counts of using doping methods and two cases of putting drugs on the market without authorisation and was sentenced on Friday (January 15) by the Regional Court of Munich.
The German doctor has been jailed for four years and 10 months for running a blood doping ring that involved 23 athletes from eight countries, including cyclists from the 2018 Tour de France, the 2016 and 2018 Giro d’Italia, and the 2017 Vuelta a España, as well as endurance skiers.
Schmidt was also fined €158,000 (£140,000), according to Eurosport Germany, while four co-defendants avoided jail and were given probation sentences and fines.
The Operation Aderlass investigation centres around police raids at the Nordic World Skiiing Championships in February in Seefeld, Austria, which resulted in the arrest of five endurance skiiing athletes. .
Schmidt emerged as the central figure in the operation and the scandal soon hit the cycling world when in March 2019 former Aqua Blue Sport rider Stefan Denifl confessed to blood doping under Schmidt’s supervision
Georg Preidler, a Groupama-FDJ rider at the time, then confessed to having blood extracted on two occasions by Schmidt in 2018.
Both Denifl and Preidler have been banned from the sport by the UCI and were both charged with sporting fraud for misleading their teams.
Preidler was given a suspended sentence and fined, while Denifl was jailed for two years earlier this week, with 16 months of his sentence being suspended.
In May last year, the UCI published also four names believed to be connected with the case as Slovenian Bahrain-Merida rider Kristijan Koren was pulled from the Giro d’Italia by his team, while Kristijan Đurasek from UAE Team Emirates was removed from the Tour of California over the revelations.
Also named were Bahrain-Merida assistant sports director Borut Božič and retired Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi.
Petacchi was given a two-year ban for doping violations dating back to 2012 and 2013, and was stripped of his results from that period.
Then in October 2019, Koren and his compatriot Božič were banned for two years each and were fired by Bahrain-Merida while Đurasek was banned for four years in November 2019.
Last September, Schmidt went on trial in Munich charged with multiple doping offences, which resulted in his sentence on Friday.