Tom Dumoulin has warned of the need for constant vigilance in the fight against doping in the wake of his former teammate Georg Preidler’s confession that he had extracted blood on two occasions with the intention of blood doping.
Preidler confessed to Austrian police earlier this month that he had blood extracted on two occasions in late 2018. The Austrian rider spent five years alongside Dumoulin at Sunweb and was part of the team that helped the Dutchman win the 2017 Giro d’Italia. He joined Groupama-FDJ ahead of the 2018 season and quit the team in the wake of his confession.
“We were very good teammates. I wouldn’t call him a friend, but he was a close teammate to me. Then he left the team and now this, it’s really weird. It’s a strange feeling. I had a bad morning when the news came out,” Dumoulin told Cyclingnews in Camaiore ahead of stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico.
Dumoulin said that he has had no contact with Preidler since his confession and was at a loss to explain what had prompted his former teammate to take recourse to blood doping, though he hoped he would offer a public explanation for his actions.
“I haven’t spoken to him, so I wouldn’t know, I can only guess,” Dumoulin said. “I hope he just comes out and tells the story, how it happened and why he did it. I think that would be a good thing.”
Preidler’s confession was prompted by the 'Operation Aderlass' blood doping inquiry, which is centred on the activities of the former Gerolsteiner and Milram doctor Mark Schmidt, who is based in Erfurt, Germany.
His fellow Austrian rider Stefan Denifl has also confessed to blood doping, while some five Nordic skiers were arrested at the recent World Championships. Some 40 blood bags have reportedly been seized from Schmidt’s practice.
The affair has called the efficacy of the biological passport into question, amid growing concerns that it is unable to detect low-volume blood transfusions. Dumoulin said that he was not placed to offer an informed judgement on the biological passport, though he noted that the recent spate of confessions was triggered by a police investigation rather than by testing.
“I’m not a scientist, I wouldn’t know how it works with the biological passport,” Dumoulin said. “I heard good things and bad things about it but apparently it’s very difficult to track this [low-volume transfusions – ed]. And apparently, it’s still possible to get away with it because if the police hadn’t done their raid, then Georg probably would have used it next year, if it’s all true what he said.”
Following his pre-race press conference earlier this week, Dumoulin admitted surprise that he has been asked so few questions about the Preidler case. Speaking to Cyclingnews on Thursday, Dumoulin expressed concern that momentum had been lost in the fight against doping ahead of the Preidler and Denifl cases.
“I can only tell how I feel about this case, and that I feel we should do something about doping,” Dumoulin said. “We can never think that it’s now suddenly out of cycling or that it’s out of sports. That’s never going to happen. I truly believe that’s never going to happen, but we should do everything we can to prevent it as much as possible.
“We shouldn’t get lazy. If we have a couple of years where we don’t find big guys using doping then I always have the feeling that it fades away a little bit. Not everybody is as sharp anymore, and we need a big case like this to get everyone sharp again. But why is it necessary that we need a case like this? We should always keep a track on anti-doping.”