Georg Preidler charged with fraud after admitting involvement in Operation Aderlass blood doping ring

The Austrian has already been banned for four years and quit Groupama-FDJ after the revelations

Georg Preidler has been charged with professional fraud over his involvement in the Operation Aderlass doping ring.

The Austrian quit his Groupama-FDJ team in March after he was implicated in the long-running doping scheme.

Preidler has already been banned from the sport for four years by the UCI and has now been accused by the Austrian public prosecutor of blood doping and using growth hormones from the 2017 Giro d’Italia up until this year, reports Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten.

The prosecutor’s office in Innsbruck announced on Wednesday (September 18) that the 29-year-old had been charged with “commercially serious (sports) fraud” after the doping investigation into a German doctor.

Preidler has two weeks to appeal the charge, and he faces between six months and five years in prison if found guilty.

Prosecutor Thomas Willam said Preidler is accused of “regularly practicing blood doping and use of growth hormones starting with the Giro d’Italia in the spring of 2017 until his doping confession.”

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Preidler was caught up in the Operation Aderlass case, initially an Austrian Federal Criminal Police Office investigation in to blood doping in endurance skiing.

Raids by police in February 2019 threw up evidence linking cyclists to the scandal, including Preidler and his compatriot Stefan Denifl, who had previously ridden for Aqua Blue Sport.

The UCI announced in June that Preidler and Denifl would both be banned for four years, with Preidler’s ban provisional as he is contesting the case.

Preidler quit his team after admitting he had extracted blood but denies re-infusing it, while Denifl reportedly confessed to police that he had doped.

A court date for Preidler’s trial has not been set, but he faces charges of defrauding his teams and causing an estimated €250,000 (£221,600) worth of damage.

Preidler rode for Sunweb in 2017, helping Tom Dumoulin to his first Grand Tour victory before joining Groupama-FDJ the following year.

The Aderlass scandal has also resulted in the banning of retired sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, after authorities passed information to the UCI that revealed he had committed an anti-doping rule violation between 2012 and 2013.

Petecchi, who retired in 2015, denies any wrongdoing but has been banned for two years.

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