Georg Preidler has told a court he became involved in blood doping “out of pure curiosity.”
The Austrian former pro has appeared in court over allegations of sports fraud after he admitted blood doping during his time with Groupama-FDJ.
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Preidler is accused of defrauding his team after blood doping and regularly taking growth hormones from the 2017 Giro d’Italia up until he left the squad in early 2019.
The 29-year-old has admitted blood doping, but denies ever taking any performance enhancing substances, reports Austrian broadcaster Radio Steiermark.
Preidler appeared before a court in Innsbruck, Austria on Wednesday (July 15), with the case adjourned to a later date.
During the hearing, he pleaded guilty to practicing blood doping in 2018, having decided to become involved in the banned method at the end of 2017 “out of pure curiosity.”
Preidler transferred from Sunweb to Groupama-FDJ for the 2018 season – then in March 2019 he quit his team after he admitted having blood extracted.
He 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.
Denifl has also been charged with professional fraud and is due to stand trial on February 3.
The court heard that Preidler had received and used syringes from a “dodgy figure,” without knowing what substance he was taking.
He denies taking banned substances and said: “The effect was not noticeable for me, which is why I soon lost interest.”
The court heard it was after using these syringes he came into contact with doctor Mark S at the end of 2017, which resulted in him starting to blood dope.
He is accused of serious commercial fraud caused by his doping, with the public prosecutor arguing he caused more than €250,000 (£213,000) of damages.
Another former cyclist is on trial with Preidler, accused of helping him obtain growth hormone.
A number of cross-country skiers have already been jailed for their involvement in the blood doping ring.