VIENNA (AP) — Austrian anti-doping authorities have handed four-year suspensions to two riders for their alleged involvement in an international blood-doping ring.
The Austrian Anti-Doping Legal Committee says it has banned Stefan Denifl and Georg Preidler, who both raced in Grand Tours and made up Austria's road-race team at the 2016 Olympics. The two were provisionally suspended by the International Cycling Union in March.
According to the committee, Denifl used blood doping at least from June 2014 until the end of 2018 and Preidler between February and December last year.
The riders can appeal their suspensions within four weeks.
Preidler, who rode for Groupama-FDJ at that time, and Denifl both admitted to doping after being arrested following raids by police at the Nordic skiing world championships in Austria and a medical practice in Germany. A German doctor who used to work in professional cycling has been accused of providing blood doping services to athletes in various sports.
Alongside five cross-country skiers who were arrested at the championships, Denifl and Preidler were the first cyclists to be caught. Six more riders, including retired sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, have also been linked to the ring.
A German prosecutor working alongside Austrian authorities on the case said in March that as many as 21 athletes from five sports may have been part of the doping ring.
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