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Kittel on Doping Revelations: “It Is a Slap in the Face to All Clean Athletes Like Me”

By Monica Buck

Former Groupama-FDJ’s pro Georg Preidler and Aqua Blue Sport’s Stefan Denifl admitted involvement in the latest doping scandal. Following 16 police raids in Austria and Germany from last week, 40 blood bags were seized. Nine people were arrested, and everything points towards blood doping in the Nordic skiing World Championships in Seefeld, Austria. One of the detained is German doctor Mark Schmidt, who was linked to the former Gerolsteiner cycling team, an outfit forced to fold in 2008 after numerous doping scandals.

A video footage of Austrian skier Max Hauke being interrupted by police in the middle of a blood transfusion was the main thing that shocked the general public. However, cycling fans are most interested in Denifl’s and Preidler’s involvement. Preidler already quit the Groupama-FDJ team and pulled out of the weekend’s racing. The Austrian admitted to extracting blood to re-infuse it at a later date. Denifl supposedly admitted doping in a police interview.

The UCI provisionally suspended both Preidler and Denifl, but refused to comment any further.

Marcel Kittel during the 2019 UAE Tour. © Profimedia, LaPresse

Marcel Kittel rode with Preidler in the Argos-Shimano team until 2015, and the whole doping network seems to be based around his hometown of Erfurt.

“As a pro cyclist, I am always confronted with the topic of doping,” Kittel wrote on his website. “I can’t blame anyone for that, when you look at the history of cycling and other endurance sports. Nevertheless, I have always tried to be a good example and transparent. It is a slap in the face to all clean athletes like me, sports fans, and all the passionate volunteer trainers, caregivers and helpers who support the sport with their heart and soul.”

Do you believe it is a rare incident? Or does doping still run deep in pro cycling?