Doctor at centre of Operation Aderlass scandal admits to doping athletes

The German doctor admitted he had been helping athletes, including pro cyclists, to dope since 2012 

(Image credit: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The doctor at the centre of the Operation Aderlass  scandal has admitted doping athletes during his ongoing trial. 

Mark Schmidt has confessed to using banned substances and blood doping with his athletes in Germany and Austria, after the revelations in elite cycling and endurance skiing. 

Schmidt is on trial in Munich, Germany and faces 150 charges after a doping operation was uncovered in police raids in February 2019, according to the Westdeutsche Zeitung. (opens in new tab)

The 42-year-old has claimed he “did not profit from doping” and said he believes there was no risk to the health of his athletes. 

Reports say that Schmidt received €5,000 (£4,558) per season as a basic cost to cover his medical care, with any additional treatment costing extra.

Operation Aderlass came to light in February 2019 when an investigation into blood doping in endurance skiing resulted in police raids at the Nordic Skiing World Championships in Seefeld, Austria.  

Police raided 16 properties and arrested nine people last year during operations in Seefeld and Erfurt, Germany, and 40 blood bags were seized in the process.

A number of skiers were arrested and it soon emerged that top tier cyclists were also involved. Former Groupama-FDJ rider Georg Preidler and former Aqua Blue Sport rider Stefan Denifl have both been banned from the sport for four years. 

In May last year, the UCI then published 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, 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.

Schmidt has denied any involvement in doping scandals at now defunct cycling teams Gerolsteiner and Milram between 2007 and 2010.

A verdict in Schmidt’s case is expected before Christmas.  

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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.