Mark Schmidt, the German sports doctor at the centre of the Operation Aderlass blood doping investigation, has been jailed for four years and 10 months by a Munich court. The former Gerolsteiner and Milram team doctor was found guilty of 24 counts of using doping methods and two counts of prohibited use of drugs.
Operation Aderlass first hit the headlines in February 2019 when a number of arrests were made at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Austria following admissions made by cross-country skier Johannes Dürr.
The investigation subsequently expanded to cyclists. Several have since been sanctioned, of which the highest profile is the Italian rider Alessandro Petacchi – winner of Milan-San Remo and the points jersey at all three Grand Tours – who received a two-year ban in 2019.
Kristijan Durasek, Kristijan Koren, Borut Božič, Georg Preidler and Stefan Denifl have also been banned, while former Swiss pro Pirmin Lang left the team he founded after admitting his involvement.
Schmidt was arrested in February 2019 and went on trial in September 2020, along with four accomplices who have also been found guilty. Two received suspended sentences and two were fined.
The BBC reports that in a written statement read out by his lawyers, Schmidt said, "I took a wrong turn and have myself to blame." He added, "I am infinitely sorry that I dragged the other four into it."
Schmidt admitted blood doping from 2012 onwards, but claimed he didn't financially profit from it and that no-one's health was put at risk.
As well as the jail sentence, he was fined €158,000 and banned from practising medicine for a further three years.