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Operation Aderlass doctor Mark Schmidt jailed for almost five years

Mark Schmidt
Mark Schmidt, the doctor behind the Aderlass doping ring (Image credit: Getty Images)

Mark Schmidt, the doctor at the heart of the so-called 'Aderlass' doping ring, was sentenced to four years and 10 months in prison on Friday.

In a Munich court, the 42-year-old was found guilty on 24 counts of using doping methods and a further two counts of prohibited use of drugs. 

He was also fined €158,000 and banned from practicing medicine for a further three years. Four of his helpers were also sanctioned – two with suspended prison sentences and two – including Schmidt's father – with fines of between €5,000-10,000.

In one of the first major cases under the anti-doping laws introduced in Germany in 2015, the public prosecutor had demanded a prison sentence of five years and six months. Schmidt admitted to doping athletes when the trial began in September, but has insisted he made no financial gain from it.

The charges date back to 2012 and involve athletes from a number of sports, including cycling, whom Schmidt – previously a doctor at Gerolsteiner and Milram – helped to dope. The affair came to light in February 2019 when Austrian police raided the Nordic World Ski Championships, and would later become known as Operation Aderlass – or 'bloodletting'.

German police later raided Schmidt's clinic in Erfurt, finding blood bags and other doping equipment.

The police investigation led to sanctions for a number of prominent professional cyclists. Stefan Denifl was handed a jail sentence relating to defrauding teams and sponsors earlier this week.

Alessandro Petacchi, Danilo Hondo, Georg Preidler, Borut Bozic, Kristijan Koren, and Kristijan Durasek have all been implicated and handed bans from the sport of varying lengths.