Years of blood doping, complex logistics, athletes as living blood packages, fraud at major sporting events such as the Olympics, world championships and the Tour de France: the prosecution’s allegations are extensive.
The 42-year-old did not want to express himself on the first day of the trial. In one of the largest German doping proceedings, the trial against the Erfurt doctor and four alleged helpers began on Wednesday before the Munich II district court. With a harsh judgment against Mark S. scammers should be warned and the anti-doping law, which has existed since 2015, should be strengthened. According to an assessment by the court, the doctor, as the head of the doping group, faces four to six years imprisonment – and only if he confesses extensively.
The main defendant is to testify in the course of the proceedings
Mark S. did not want to comment on the allegations at the start of the trial. However, his lawyers announced that submissions were planned for the next 25 days. Three other defendants also wanted to testify, as it was said.
A defendant’s attorneys on Wednesday called for the trial to be suspended because several fair trial principles had been violated against their client. Among other things, it was about the fact that the indictment also includes acts that are not punishable on their own: For example, it is allowed to draw blood. However, the preparation and return of the blood is prohibited.
Chief Public Prosecutor Kai Graber had previously presented how the quintet is said to have doped athletes on a commercial basis and in some cases as a gang. The prosecutors listed almost 150 cases. Events such as the Olympic Winter Games 2014 and 2018, the Tour de France 2018, the Giro d’Italia 2018 and the Nordic World Ski Championships were affected – but big sports stars should not be involved in the circle.
Athletes like the cross-country skier Johannes Durr, who had already been convicted in Austria – who had just started the investigation with an ARD interview – and the defendants met again and again in hotels, at rest stops, in fast food outlets and in specially rented apartments to take blood or return it . Blood bags were driven across Europe by Mark S. or his helpers.
Because this was not possible at the winter games in Pyeongchang, for example, Mark S. and an accused nurse each injected an extra liter of blood into several winter sports enthusiasts, which they then flew in their veins to South Korea. The indictment speaks of “autologous body packers”. As a precaution against thrombosis, the defendants gave the athletes blood thinners on the flight. In one case, according to the prosecution, Mark S. urged a mountain biker to take a dangerous drug, which made her feel sick and her urine turned red. Only after a while did the Austrian feel better.
The accused nurse was one of two suspects who were arrested in a raid on February 27, 2019 in Seefeld, Tyrol. She is said to have doped athletes during the Nordic World Ski Championships. That day the investigation into “Operation Aderlass” was made public. In total, the investigators identified 23 athletes involved; in Germany and Austria, 50 people were identified. Winter athletes and cyclists in particular were among the doctor’s customers. Mark S. had customers from Austria such as the professional cyclists Georg Preidler and Stefan Denifl as well as the cross-country skiers Max Hauke, Dominik Baldauf, Johannes Durr and Harald Wurm.
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