Guilt-stricken Austrian cyclist quits French Groupama team

Cyclist Georg Preidler, who had gone to the Austrian police to confess to doping, has quit Groupama-FDJ "with immediate effect" the French team said on Monday.

Preidler, 28, was not among six athletes arrested last week in a probe into an international doping ring but "couldn't live with this secret any longer," he told Austria's Kronen newspaper and handed himself to police in Graz.

Five skiers and another cyclist were held as part of investigation into an alleged doping ring based in Germany and led by a 40-year-old sports doctor named as 'Mark S'.

"The past few days have been a nightmare. I didn't know if I would get found out. I didn't know whether this doping doctor had concealed everything," Preidler said.

The triple Austrian time-trial champion said that he had been sought out by the doping ring and had only started doping "recently", insisting that his professional successes had been "clean".

"It was the biggest mistake of my life," he added.

Preidler joined Groupama, which is run by Marc Madiot, last year. The team said in their statement that he "had blood drawn twice at the end of 2018."

"Given the seriousness of the facts which are in total opposition to the ethical principles still defended by the team and its sponsors Groupama and FDJ, Marc Madiot accepted his resignation effective immediately," said the team.

The team said they were collaborating "right now" with the authorities.

On Sunday, prosecutors announced that another cyclist -- named in Austrian media as Stefan Denifl -- had admitted to doping offenses.

Some of the raids last week centered on the Austrian resort of Seefeld, where the Nordic skiing world championships were being held.

Five skiers were arrested: two Austrians, Dominik Baldauf, and Max Hauke, Estonians Karel Tammjaerv and Andreas Veerpalu, and Kazakh athlete Alexei Poltoranin.

Footage later posted on social media showed Hauke apparently caught red-handed with a needle in his arm during the police raid with an officer looking on.

Source(s): AFP