Sport Former Italian cyclist Alessandro Petacchi, green jersey of the...

Former Italian cyclist Alessandro Petacchi, green jersey of the Tour de France, suspected of doping

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According to our information, the best sprinter of the 2000s appears in the German police investigation called "Aderlass", on a doping network on a European scale. Contacted, Alessandro Petacchi denied.

By Clément Guillou Posted today at 20h00, updated at 21h43

Time to Reading 10 min.

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Italian Alessandro Petacchi with the green jersey after the 13th stage of the Tour de France, in 2012.
Italy's Alessandro Petacchi with the green jersey after the 13th stage of the Tour de France, in 2012. REUTERS / FRANCOIS LENOIR

The information should occupy the conversations in the coming days, on the Tour of Italy cyclist left Saturday, May 11 in Bologna. Alessandro Petacchi, legend of Italian cycling, former green jersey of the Tour de France and commentator of the Giro on the Italian public television, is suspected of having performed blood transfusions at the end of his professional career.

According to information from World and Corriere della SeraThe former sprinter, who retired from the peloton in 2015, was for two years a prestigious client of German physician Mark Schmidt, who was arrested in his Erfurt (Germany) office on 27 February. The blood doping network he ran from the Thüringe, which mainly concerned winter sports and cycling, was dismantled by the German and Austrian police, who continue to roll out the pelota.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also "Aderlass", a blood doping network on a European scale

According to concordant sources, the investigators of the operation "Aderlass" ("bleeding", in Italian) reproach Alessandro Petacchi for having performed autologous blood transfusions during the seasons 2012 and 2013. This practice, prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Code and criminal offense in Italy, consists in injecting one's own blood previously collected in order to increase the number of red blood cells in the body and thus improve the transport of oxygen.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Operation 'Aderlass' reveals new methods of doping

Contacted at the end of the fourth stage of the Tour of Italy, the one who comments for the first time the race on the antenna of the Rai denied knowing Dr. Schmidt: "I have never seen him, I do not know him. I have never been to his office in Germany or anywhere else. I have never performed blood transfusions. And I have no idea why my name appears in the folder. "

Doctor's confession

Petacchi, however, is part of the twenty or so athletes already identified as Mark Schmidt's customers by German and Austrian investigators. They were able to rely on the doctor's confession, which helped identify his past clients and the owners of the blood bags seized from his home. Other names emerged from the physical, telephone and banking surveillance around Dr. Schmidt.

Until now, investigators have had little reason to doubt Mark Schmidt's confession. Two Austrian cyclists denounced by the doctor – Stefan Denifl and Georg Preidler – quickly confessed to having used his services. On Sunday, former German sprinter Danilo Hondo, also quoted by Mark Schmidt, confessed in an interview with the German channel ARD, informed of an open investigation in Switzerland.

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