On Wednesday of last week the Austrian police carried out their particular Operation Port. With the information of a repentant sportsman, he broke into a Tyrolean chalet in Seefeld, where the Nordic ski world championships were held. They arrested five skiers – one of them was found in the middle of a reinfusion of blood, with the needle stuck in a vein in his arm – and four others, including the German doctor Mark Schmidt. When the German colleagues registered Schmidt's clinic in Erfurt, they found a freezer with 40 bags of blood. "I'll talk, I'll say it all," said Schmidt, an old friend of the cycling world who was the Gerolsteiner's doctor, the team that disappeared in 2008 after several runners tested positive. "Apart from skiers there are cyclists".
Before the doctor began to sing, two Austrian cyclists went to the prosecution and confessed that a bag of blood belonged to them. One, Stefan Denifl, 31, whose biggest success is the victory at the stage of the terrible Machucos, in the Vuelta of 2017, is unemployed; the other, Georg Preidler, 28, is one of Thibaut Pinot's trusted men in the Groupama.
Also spoke Michael Rasmussen, the cyclist expelled when he was leading the Tour of 2007 on suspicion of a doping that was not detected. "Those machines sound familiar to me," he said, looking at photographs of Schmidt's installations, which featured two blood-treating machines valued at around 100,000 euros. "They are the same ones my agent Stefan Matschiner used to freeze my blood in Humanplasma."
Matschiner has confirmed that he sold the machines to Schmidt in 2010 when he was sentenced to prison for organizing a blood doping network for the best cyclists in the squad at the Humanplasma clinic in Vienna. "And I also passed my customer list to Schmidt."
One of those, already retired, was Thomas Dekker, a young Dutchman of tremendous talent who, as he tells in his biography, began with doping by the hand of Eufemiano Fuentes, and went to Humanplasma when Operation Puerto ended the business of the Canary doctor.
Rasmussen adds that in spite of being doped conscientiously with transfusions, his hematological values would never have jumped his biological passport. "What's the use, then?" Asks Rasmussen.
The experts respond that the passport at least serves so that doping does not go off scandalously and the evolution of Dekker offers the explanation. In time of sources, transfusions of about 200 ml of red blood cells were made, red blood cells, which gave him values that would make jump all the alarms that the passport only put in operation several years later. Then the athletes resorted to microtransfusions, of less absolute efficacy but with the same relative value. They went from reinfunding bags to quantities that would fit in a tube of toothpaste and cause alterations practically undetectable.
In Spain, the lawyer of Fuentes, Tomás Valdivielso, explains that no, they have not recovered anything of the material that was confiscated in May 2006, when Operation Puerto dismantled their company, which suggests that no one has inherited or their material nor his clientele. "Although it seems a lie, the Court has not yet returned anything after the acquittal," Valdivielso replied by email. "Apparently it is not clear what the civil guard instructor did with, among other things, mobiles, cards, photos, machines and the money that was seized from Dr. Fuentes at the time of his arrest. In September 2018, the Civil Guard was called to report where they are. As of today I am not aware that the Civil Guard has reported. "
C. ARRIBAS, Madrid