Operation Aderlass: Georg Preidler and Stefan Denifl banned for doping

Georg Preidler and Stefan Denifl
The UCI will assist the Austrian National Anti-Doping Organisation in its proceedings against the pair

Austrian cyclists Georg Preidler and Stefan Denifl have been provisionally suspended after admitting doping, the International Cycling Union has confirmed.

The duo were questioned by Austrian police as part of the 'Operation Aderlass' doping inquiry.

Five Nordic skiers were arrested during last week's World Championships, Austria's federal criminal police office confirmed.

The bans are effective immediately.

Preidler, a three-time Austrian time-trial champion, claimed he had been sought out by the doping ring and had only started taking substances "recently" meaning his professional successes had been "clean".

He handed himself in to police in Graz after struggling with his conscience and was subsequently sacked by his French team Groupama-FDJ.

His compatriot Denifl, formerly of Aqua Blue, admitted two offences on Sunday.

"The UCI has now received further information regarding the admissions made by Georg Preidler and Stefan Denifl," the statement said.

"After a review of all elements in its possession, the UCI has decided to provisionally suspend both riders with immediate effect.

"The UCI will assist the Austrian National Anti-Doping Organisation in the conduct of the disciplinary proceedings against Preidler and Denifl and will support all involved parties in the ongoing investigations."

One Kazakh, two Austrian and two Estonian athletes have been arrested, a statement by Austria's federal criminal police office confirmed.

Austrian police say the alleged doping ring was based in Erfurt, Germany, and is "strongly suspected of carrying out blood doping of elite athletes in order to improve their performances".

On Wednesday, 16 properties were searched, nine of which German prosecutors said were in Erfurt.

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