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Madiot expresses 'surprise' and 'enormous disappointment' at Preidler doping confession

Groupama-FDJ manager Marc Madiot has expressed his "surprise" and "enormous disappointment" his rider Georg Preidler's confession to extracting blood for a possible transfusion.

As evidence of blood doping was uncovered by the Austrian police's 'Operation Aderlass' investigation, Preidler confessed to the authorities on Sunday and emailed Madiot to say he was resigning from the team with immediate effect.

In an interview with the Kronen Zeiting newspaper in Austria, Preidler claimed he had had blood extracted, but insisted he had not re-injected it, acknowledging that the "fraudulent intent" was a rule violation in itself.

"It was with surprise and disappointment that I learnt of the news involving Georg Preidler, through an email he sent to us yesterday," Madiot said, according the French newspaper Ouest France. "In his email, Georg informed me of his resignation with immediate effect, which I ratified straight away. Georg is therefore no longer part of our team as of yesterday.

"It's an enormous disappointment, because I had great trust in that rider. Unfortunately, that trust was betrayed. That's one of the hazards in the life of a team, and in life in general. I hope he'll be able to learn from his mistakes and will commit fully to shining a light on this affair."

Preidler's confession came just after another pro cyclist, his fellow Austrian Stefan Denifl, had been implicated in Operation Aderlass. The investigation, which is primarily focused on Nordic skiers, is centred around Dr. Mark Schmidt after 40 blood bags were reportedly discovered in a garage in Erfurt, Germany. Schmidt was previously a doctor at the Gerolsteiner and Milram cycling teams. He was accused of doping by Bernard Kohl when the Austrian rider was caught in 2008 but was cleared after a trial.

More on this story

Cycling's problems with doping are well-documented, with so many of the sport's most successful riders tarnished, including current world champion Alejandro Valverde. The introduction of the biological passport - monitoring blood values over time - was supposed to represent great progress in the anti-doping fight, but Aderlass will surely intensify doubts over over its effectiveness.

Madiot, a former pro who has managed FDJ since their inception in 1997, described the Preidler case as a reminder that the fight against doping in cycling is far from won.

"The present situation confirms once again that we need to remain vigilant, involved, and that's what we're modestly trying to do at this team. We are going to continue in this way and, as MPCC president Roger Legeay said, you always have to keep your eyes open. That involves continued and permanent engagement from teams and authorities in the fight against doping," he said.

"I trust the authorities to lead this fight. We have already made much progress but, evidently, more still needs to be done. That will happen in the coming years - in any case, that's my greatest wish."

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