Operation Aderlass snags another: ex-pro Pirmin Lang confesses to blood doping

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Add Swiss ex-professional Pirmin Lang to the list of cyclists caught up in Operation Aderlass.

Lang, a pro with IAM from 2013 to 2016 and more recently one of the co-founders of Continental team Swiss Racing Academy, confessed his involvement in the Aderlass doping ring to the Swiss newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung after are reporter called him with questions. He is the seventh professional cyclist to be scooped up by the anti-doping operation, which began in cross country skiing. He has resigned his position at Swiss Racing Academy.

“My name is Pirmin Lang, I am 35 years old. And I resign from professional cycling today,” Lang said via a statement, viewable in its entirety below.

“I was part of the ‘Aderlass’ network. I lied and I am responsible for my actions. I regret it.”

Operation Aderlass first hit the news following a high-profile raid by Austrian police at the nordic skiing world championships in February 2019.

Like many successful anti-doping efforts in the modern era, it is an intelligence-based effort, rather than one reliant on anti-doping tests. It has swept up a ring of athletes and medical professionals who used blood doping – taking blood out of the athletes’ bodies and then putting it back in – in an attempt to improve performance.

The cycling connection became apparent following another police raid, a month after the skiing raid, at a clinic in Erfurt, Germany. That clinic was run by Mark Schmidt, a former doctor for the cycling team Gerolsteiner, once the home of convicted dopers Stefan Schumacker and Bernard Kohl.

George Preidler and Stefan Denifl were the first cyclists to be implicated by Aderlass. Both confessed to blood doping. Danilo Hondo then confessed to blood doping in 2012 and 2013 and resigned his position as a national coach at the Swiss Cycling Federation. Former sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, a winner of 48 grand tour stages, was implicated and then handed a two-year ban. Kristijan Koren (Bahrain-Merida) and Kristian Durasek (UAE Team Emirates) were both named as clients of Dr Schmidt and fired by their teams. Borut Bozic was named as a client as well.

Operation Aderlass continues to march on. Lang is the first individual publicly connected to the operation in months.

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