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MTB racer Christina Kollmann-Forstner is the latest cyclist to be caught out by Operation Aderlass, the Austrian police investigation into blood doping.
Earlier this week the UCI announced that it had notified Kollmann-Forstner of “potential Anti-Doping Rule Violations (Use of Prohibited Method and Possession of Prohibited Method)” based on information it had received from Austrian law enforcement authorities “in the context of the Operation Aderlass.”
The 31-year-old has been provisionally suspended from competition as per article 7.9.3 of the UCI Anti-Doping Rules. That particular article explains that the UCI can hand down a “provisional suspension prior to analysis of the Rider’s B Sample (where applicable) or prior to a final hearing”. It’s unclear how long her provisional suspension will last for.
Kollmann-Forstner (pictured above left) spent some time racing on the road earlier in her career but has focused on mountain bike racing in recent years. She finished second at the 2018 UCI MTB Marathon World Championships behind Annika Langvad.
Operation Aderlass has tracked a blood doping scheme since 2011, with a raid on February 27 of this year uncovering a doping laboratory, blood bags, evidence of blood transfusions and a centrifuge. There was also striking footage released by an Austrian police officer of Austrian cross country skier Max Hauke, surrounded by police, caught with a blood bag hooked up to his arm. The doctor at the centre of the scandal, Mark Schmidt, is a former team doctor for Milram and Gerolsteiner – and although investigations were initially linked to cross country skiing, the net has spread to implicate a number of cyclists.
Austrian cyclists Georg Preidler (Groupama-FDJ) and Stefan Denifl (now retired, ex-Aqua Blue Sport) both confessed to involvement in the blood doping ring in early March. In May, retired Slovenian rider Borut Bozic (now sports director at Bahrain-Merida) and Alessandro Petacchi – a 48-time Grand Tour stage winner through the 2000s, also retired – were implicated. Two current World Tour riders, Croatian Kristijan Durasek (UAE-Emirates) and Slovenian Kristijan Koren (Bahrain–Merida) were also named at the same time, and were sent home from the Tour of California and Giro d’Italia, respectively.
Kollmann-Forstner is the latest athlete linked to the blood doping investigation, which has now extended to athletes from 21 disciplines and eight nationalities.