I have been home at Lake Constance since Sunday and after landing, I got this message: "Supposedly another one is coming out. Tomorrow. And Georg Preidler is no longer on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Co."
Yesterday the rumour was confirmed and frankly, I am stumped. Not just because Georg was my teammate for three years, but also because the whole doping network with a doctor from my hometown of Erfurt was based in Thüringen. I went to school there and started by athletic career there. My friends and family live there and, although I have in the meantime moved to Switzerland, it is still my home.
The last days in Dubai, I have with disbelief followed how more and more details came to light about the network around Mark Schmidt, the athletes and how that all functioned. And how Erfurt and Thüringen all of a sudden are being portrayed as a center of international sport fraud.
I don't want to speak here about the personal depths that are involved when looking at someone like Mark Schmidt. Egoism and financial motives would be perhaps most important. I personally don't know him and his surroundings.
I am very happy that this now has come to an end – as painful as it is. I find it tragic that a handful of people can do so much damage to the image of German sports and my hometown. In the coming days there will surely be new names and details made public, and I find one fact especially bad: that Dr. Schmid's practice was also an official contact point of the LSB Thüringen for many young up-and-coming athletes, who were examined and treated there and now are put in a bad light, although they did nothing wrong.
How can it be that after the experience of the controversy of the UV light treatment by Dr. Franke at the Olympic support center Erfurt 2012, in which I was also involved, people here didn't become more aware? Even if you can't directly compare the cases, the consequences are again that it is the young athletes who suffer, because those in charge didn't properly look at things. That makes me angry and disappointed.
As a pro cyclist, I am always confronted with the topic of doping. I can't blame anyone for that, when you look at the history of cycling and other endurance sports. Nevertheless I have always tried to be a good example and transparent. I am proud that this current case around Mark Schmidt comes from the Anti-Doping law which I have supported. The severity of the law and police investigational methods are necessary against this kind of criminal energy of the back-room men and athletes and to protect the honourable people.
You always hear about a second chance in doping cases and that people can learn from their mistakes. That is also a big question in cycling, where there are still many people from the scandal years serving as Sporting Director, support giver or manager. And everyone has earned this chance and most take advantages of it. But Mark Schmidt has lost the right to that, in my opinion. It seems as if he has helped athletes to cheat 10 years ago, came out of it with no problem and then promptly built up his blood doping system again and even took over the equipment from Stefan Matschiner, who had just been caught and punished. There is just no more ignorance and audacity.
The more important questions are, how can we help athletes like Georg Preidler, who apparently slipped off the narrow path and could no longer hold out agains the pressure? Some athletes aren't as lucky to have the environment that I have, one which has supported and protected me during my whole sports career. Success in sport is not just physical but also involves mental strength. That is why I think that especially young athletes can and must be prepared for this situation with coaching and much explanation, in order to be strong later when they are faced with temptation. And we athletes should not be left along with this assignment. Sport plays an important role in society, keeps people healthy and fit, and provides both entertainment and role models. But all of that can become too much for an individual and he breaks because of it, or tries to find a shortcut through doping.
The sport must take a long look at itself. When I see the corrupt practices of many sport functionaries, the bribery and pay-offs involving the large sports federations and the loss of prestige of the Olympic Games, which actually should be the shining example, then you don't have to wonder why there are always athletes who cheat. Of course one can't condemn all athletes, functionaries or federations, because I believe that most of them are engaged for a clean sport. But the fish starts to stink from the head down. And it is a slap in the face to all clean athletes like me, sports fans and all the passionate volunteer trainers, caregivers and helpers like those in Erfurt, who support sport with their heart and soul.
Thoughts about Erfurt2019-03-05
First race after the Tour in Thüringen
Hi dear fans, after my unlucky exit from the Tour, I have trained a lot in the last days and have been able to distract myself a bit. [more]
Third in the Tour opener
Unfortunately it wasn’t enough today for the win. But I a very satisfied with third place, because I feel very well, the legs are strong and I am in Tour modus. [more]
Finally Tour time
I am full in the Tour mood. The presentation yesterday was great. It feels good to pick up the fans’ enthusiasm. [more]
Pre-Tour anticipation and concentration
Of course I would have loved to go to the Tour with the national champion's jersey. And yes, of course I am disappointed that it didn’t work out. [more]
No start in Gent-Wevelgem
Actually, I wanted to start in Gent-Wevelgem tomorrow. But together with the team, I have changed the plan. [more]
Lessons from the Milan-Sanremo premiere
Phew. At the end my lights just went totally out. On the Cipressa I totally fell apart. My oven was totally out. [more]
Second win in Tirreno
What a team performance! Our plan worked out perfectly. We wanted to control the race from the very start, let a small group go and then set up the optimal sprint. [more]
At last, no longer a rookie in Italy
Phew. A very large load fell away from me today. At last! The first win this year. A journalist told me today that it had been eight months since the last time I won. [more]
Thüringer male athlete of the year and donations
After a real travel marathon, I am finally getting into the Christmas mood. [more]
Days of uncertainty for cycling
I must admit that I was shocked when I heard the news about Chris Froome's suspicious doping control. You all probably felt the same way that Tony and I did. [more]
Training camp and votes for Athlete of the Year
I have been back in training for about a month now and today finally put in the first kilometers with my new team. [more]
Tour 2018 presentation
Of course I am happy that the Tour de France 2018 starts with a flat stage. I expect a spectacular sprint. [more]
Four people on the line
What a photo finish – four people on the line. I have never been part of that before. Unfortunately I came from behind a fraction of a second too late. [more]
I will wear the Quick-Step colors tomorrow at the Münsterland Giro for the last time – and I am really looking forward to this race. [more]
Preparing for the final highlights
After the Cyclassics and the Sport Bild Award in Hamburg, where I was honoured, I am again at home. Unfortunately things in Hamburg did not go as I had wanted. [more]
There is news
After two years I will leave my current team Quick-Step Floors and as of 2018 I will ride for Katusha-Alpecin. [more]
The legs are good, the form is right too – but I still need a little something to come mentally back into the form I need to go all out in these top-class sprints. [more]
Leaving the Tour, but the five wins remain
Now it is over. Unfortunately I won’t make it to Paris this year. The crash today was the knock-out punch. [more]
Working on Mission Green
Rest day at last! After my fifth stage win at this year’s Tour, we sprinters have had to survive some hard days until tomorrow’s rest day. [more]
Four stage wins at the halfway mark and the German record
It is simply unbelievable, to have already won four stages. With 1775 kilometers we are only halfway through the Tour 2017. When it goes good, it goes good. [more]
Starting with mourning armband
Today a great cycling trainer, companion and friend died. That is why I started today wearing a mourning armband. [more]
Winning by six millimeters
The finish line surprised me today. It came earlier than I thought it would. I had to give my all and think that I now have longer arms than before. [more]
Second stage win at the Tour 2017
Yeah! Second win at the Tour. That was my kind of sprint. Thanks to the team. The guys gave everything for me and brought me to the front perfectly in a hectic finale. [more]
An emotional win
I am super proud of this stage win. Being able to give the fans a German victory at the Grand Depart in Germany is an indescribable feeling. [more]
Ninth in the prologue
My ears still hurt from the noise along the course. It was totally crazy, how many people were out there despite the awful weather. [more]
Go to the Tour
After the German championship in chemnitz, I once again went through blown in the home before going to düsseldorf. I'm so glad it's finally going off. [more]
A chain problem in the finale
About 200 meters before the finish line a speed bump stopped me in the finale – well actually, it was my chain. [more]
Altitude training in Colorado
After my return to racing in the Tour of California, I am now in Colorado for an altitude training camp to get the last bit for the Tour. [more]
Winning at home
Fifth win in the Scheldeprijs! By now it feels like my home race. I could win today thanks to great teamwork – and it was a very special win. It was Tom’s farewell appearance in Belgium. [more]
Victory at the Three Days of de Panne
Crash, chasing back, win. What a finale in the next-to-last stage of the Three Days of de Panne! Crashing 15 km before the finish is really a bad idea. [more]
Training in the sun and "Biking for PSP"
Greetings from sunny Spain. I have fled from the weather at home and am now putting in my kilometers in Spain, where I am preparing for the upcoming races. [more]
In the wind too soon
Today I absolutely wanted to win, but in the end I was really surprised by the wind and was up front too early. One more man would have been better, or I could have taken the risk and jumped forward from rear wheel to rear wheel with Saba. [more]
Yesterday a crash, today a victory
I am overjoyed that after yesterday’s setback, I could win the second stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour. [more]
Back in the desert
This will really be a meeting of the sprinters. And from the GC riders, only Christopher Froome is missing, otherwise we would have the perfect line-up like at a Grand Tour. [more]
Overall title in Dubai
Three wins, the overall title and my eighth win ever here in Dubai. This season start gives me a lot of self-confidence. The team was great. [more]
A shame for our sport
Today I thought I was in the wrong sport. Not cycling but martial arts. [more]
Second win in second race
Second win in second race, and my seventh overall here in Dubai. I am super happy with this win today, even if it didn’t come about as perfectly as yesterday. [more]
First race, first win
Yeah! First race, first win. This morning after I got up and had put in a few meters on the bike, I knew that my legs were good. In the race itself there was no situation which we didn’t have under control. [more]
Starting training in Calpe
I hope you have all started the New Year well and are back into things. I am. I have been with the team for several days in Calpe, where we ride our first "races" ;-) [more]
Putting my bike in the corner
I haven’t been in the saddle at all since the Worlds race. Now the main thing is to get away from it all. That would of course have been a lot easier with a good result in Qatar. [more]