Ex-pro Danilo Hondo has been sacked from his position as an elite national coach by the Swiss Cycling Federation after confessing his involvement in the Erfurt blood doping scandal.
In a press release, the federation said that they have dismissed the 45-year-old without notice after he confessed to German broadcaster ARD about his blood doping in 2011. Hondo is the latest cyclist to be caught up in the Erfurt scandal, after Georg Preidler and Stefan Denifl.
"We decided to give Danilo a second chance," said Thomas Peter, Technical Director of Swiss Cycling. "We were convinced of his qualities as a coach and we are still today. We are deeply disappointed and have to digest this message first."
Hondo, who worked as an under-23 coach at Swiss Cycling from January 2015, and as an elite coach there since September 2016, told ARD, "I informed the cycling federation on Sunday morning. Everyone was shocked.
"I have to say – and this has been on my mind all night – I had this moment of weakness. I made the biggest mistake of my life and agreed to this thing.”
This news is the latest revelation in the Erfurt scandal, which saw German doctor Mark Schmidt run a doping ring from the city. Schmidt was arrested in raids at the Nordic Ski World Championships in Seefeld, Austria in February, and in the days afterwards, both Preidler and Denifl confessed their involvement.
Hondo, who was riding for Lampre-ISD at the time of his involvement with Schmidt, did not achieve any significant results between then and the end of his career in 2014. Highlights of his road career included two stage wins at the 2001 Giro d'Italia and victory at the German road race championships in 2002.
In 2005 he was banned for one year – later extended to two – after testing positive for carphendon at the Vuelta a Murcia while riding for Gerolsteiner.
"I am aware that there will be no professional future for me in cycling," he said to ARD. "Neither at Swiss Cycling, nor in any other form in sport, especially as I am officially a repeat offender.
"I'm now being punished for mistakes in my past."
Hondo, who paid €30,000 a year for Schmidt's services, is said to have been named by the doctor while under interrogation in custody. After initially denying the claims on Saturday morning, Hondo later confessed in the interview with ARD journalist Hajo Seppelt.
"Since I am now working as a national coach in Switzerland, dealing with lots of young riders and, in recent years, being very active in the prevention of doping, it was relatively clear," he said of his decision to confess.
"If I get involved in this case, I have to stand by to continue what I have been doing in recent years as a non-active professional cyclist. It would have been wrong if I had tried to escape my responsibilities by legal means, and that's the only way I can send a clear signal to my athletes."