There is “growing evidence” of professional cyclists being involved in the blood doping probe centred on the Nordic World Ski Championships in Austria last month.
After five athletes were arrested at that event, Groupama-FDJ rider Georg Priedler and Stefan Denifl, who had been due to join CCC for this season but rescinded his contract in December, both admitted to doping.
The pair, who are both Austrian, were also arrested as part of the investigation and have been provisionally suspended by the UCI after saying that they doped with the help of German doctor Mark Schmidt, who formerly worked for the Gerolsteiner team and is one of five non-athletes arrested.
The doping ring is alleged to have been based in Germany, and according a tweet from the reporter Hajo Seppelt at the broadcaster ARD, there is “Growing evidence that cyclists from teams participating in Tour de France could be involved in the recent German/Austrian doping affair with the doping doctor‘s network from Erfurt/Thuringia.”
According to Munich state prosecutor Kai Graeber, 21 athletes have been linked to the scandal to date, belonging to three winter and two summer sports, reports BBC Sport.
Outlining the scale of the suspected doping operation, he said: “There are three-figure cases of blood being taken out and then being reintroduced worldwide, in Germany, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Croatia, Slovenia and Hawaii,” Graeber said.
He added that more details were continuing to come to light, hinting that further revelations are likely, saying: “We have here an exciting story with a lot of twists and the final chapter has not yet been written.”
The latest arrest was made in Erfurt on Monday of a person with no medical training who is believed to have transported blood and carried out blood transfusions.
According to Graeber, the suspect does not have any medical training and “instead learned to inject on the principle of learning by doing.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.