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Ex-pro Pirmin Lang confesses involvement in Aderlass doping ring

Pirmin Lang (right) in action at the 2014 Tour de Romandie
Pirmin Lang (right) in action at the 2014 Tour de Romandie (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The Swiss ex-professional rider Pirmin Lang has revealed he was part of the Aderlass doping network in a post on Twitter after an investigation by Swiss newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung. 

The 35-year-old, who rode for IAM Cycling between 2013 and 2016, is the seventh professional road rider to be implicated in the scandal.

Lang, who co-founded the Continental team Swiss Racing Academy in 2019, did not expand on the extent of his involvement with the network, giving no details on when, where or how he doped. Neue Zurcher Zeitung said they contacted Lang on Friday morning with a series of questions, only then did he decide to confess.

Swiss Racing Academy announced his immediate departure on Friday night, with Lang resigning after being interviewed by police investigating Aderlass.

"My name is Pirmin Lang, I am 35 years old. And I resign from professional cycling today," Lang's statement read. "A couple of years ago I've initiated a structure to develop young cycling talents in my country.

"I wanted a team because I wanted to protect them. Protect them from the wrongdoings I could witness and experience during my professional career.

"To protect them from the mistakes I did. The mistakes I cannot keep as a personal secret anymore… The mistakes that I am revealing today. I've cheated through my professional career as a cyclist.

"I was part of the 'Aderlass' network. I lied and I am responsible for my actions. I regret it."

Lang raced with Swiss Continental team Atlas from 2009 to 2012 before moving to IAM Cycling in 2013 and staying on at the team when it moved to the WorldTour for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

Highlights of his eight-year professional career included winning a stage of the Rás in in Ireland in 2012, taking second at the 2016 Swiss National Championships road race, and participating at the 2013 Vuelta a España.

Since 2019, Lang had acted as manager and directeur sportif at Swiss Racing Academy, working with talents such as Stefan Bissegger, who took silver in the U23 road race at the Yorkshire Worlds last year.

"The SRA announces the immediate departures of Pirmin Lang as Head of Sport," read a statement from Swiss Racing Academy. "Mr Lang tendered his resignation after being interviewed by police investigating historical doping offences in professional cycling.

"He has confessed to cheating during his career as a professional cyclist, engaging in activities that are at odds with everything the SRA team stands for.

"We are appalled to discover that Mr Lang behaved in this manner during his career. We emphasise that there has been no suggestion of any illegal practices at SRA."

Operation Aderlass first burst into public consciousness when Austrian police conducted raids at the Nordic World Ski Championships in February 2019. Later in the month a raid on a clinic in Erfurt, Germany saw the arrest of former Gerolsteiner doctor Mark Schmidt.

Soon after, the pro cycling dominoes started to fall Stefan Denifl confessing to blood doping. Georg Preidler (Groupama-FDJ) was next, admitting to having his blood extracted on two occasions in 2018.

In May 2019, ex-pro Danilo Hondo confessed to blood doping in 2012 and 2013, and was subsequently fired from his role as elite national coach at the Swiss Cycling Federation.

Shortly afterwards, Alessandro Petacchi was named as a client, followed by three more riders – Borut Bozic and then-current professionals Kristijan Koren (Bahrain-Merida) and Kristian Durasek (UAE Team Emirates), both of whom were fired by their teams.

Preidler, Denifl and Durasek have all since been handed four-year bans, while Petacchi, Bozic and Koren have received two-year bans. Hondo has yet to receive any suspension. News of the investigation had gone quiet until Lang's confession on Friday.