A UAE Team Emirates rider is the latest athlete to be banned in the Operation Aderlass blood doping scandal.
Kristijan Đurasek was pulled from the Tour of California earlier this year after the UCI published his name as a rider suspected of involvement in the German-Austrian doping ring.
After being provisionally suspended in May following the UCI announcement, cycling’s international governing body confirmed on Wednesday (November 13) that the Croatian has been banned for four years.
Đurasek, 32, is the latest rider to be sanctioned following the police blood doping investigation, which has also seen Bahrain-Merida rider Kristijan Koren and sports director Borut Božič banned from the sport for two years.
The UCI statement said: “Kristijan Đurasek has been sanctioned with a period of ineligibility of four years for anti-doping rule violations committed from 2016 to 2019 (use of prohibited methods/substances) based on information received from the law enforcement authorities of Austria.
“The case has been resolved via an acceptance of consequences as provided for by the World Anti-Doping Code and the UCI Anti-Doping Rules.”
Đurasek, who has the right to appeal to his national anti-doping authority or the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), rode for Lampre-Merida in 2016, before joining UAE Team Emirates the following year.
His only victory during that period was stage two of the Tour of Croatia in 2017.
In May, the blood doping scandal hit the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California after the UCI published four names believed to be connected with the case.
Slovenian Kristijan Koren was pulled from the Giro by his team, while Đurasek was removed from the Tour of California over the revelations.
Also named were Bahrain-Merida assistant sports director Božič and retired Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi.
In August, 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.
Koren was sanctioned for using a prohibited method or substance in 2011 and 2012, while riding for Liquigas-Cannondale, while Božič was banned for an anti-doping violation in 2012 during his time with Astana.
The bans are the result of Operation Aderlass, a police investigation into blood doping in the Nordic skiing World Championships in Seefeld, Austria.
Police raided 16 properties and arrested nine people earlier this 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 and face charges of commercially serious sports fraud. Preidler’s ban is provisional as he is contesting the case.
Cycling Weekly has approached UAE Team Emirates for comment.