Mark Schmidt has been sentenced to four years and eight months in jail ©Getty Images

German doctor Mark Schmidt has been jailed for four years and eight months for running an international blood doping ring.

Schmidt had been on trial in Munich alongside four co-defendants.

He was found guilty of 24 counts of using doping methods and a further two counts of prohibited use of drugs, Agence France-Presse reported.

Schmidt received an additional three-year ban from practicing medicine, as well as a fine of €158,000 (£140,000/$191,000).

Prosecutors had requested a five-and-a-half-year prison sentence, with an additional five-year ban from practicing medicine.

Two of Schmidt’s co-defendants were handed suspended sentences of two years, four months and one year, four months.

Fines were given to the remaining two co-defendants, which included Schmidt’s father.

Schmidt and four co-defendants were placed on trial last year, with prosecutors accusing them of helping the athletes undergo blood transfusions.

The doctor admitted during the trial that since 2012 he had been using doping methods and given prohibited substances to athletes.

He claimed he had not initiated the doping network but had been meeting demand, having received requests from athletes.

It was one of the first major cases since anti-doping legislation was introduced in Germany in 2015.

Four co-defendants received lesser sanctions from the court in Munich ©Getty Images
Four co-defendants received lesser sanctions from the court in Munich ©Getty Images

Schmidt apologised last week and expressed regret for involving his co-defendants.

"I took a wrong turn, it's all my fault," Schmidt said.

"I am infinitely sorry that I dragged the other four into it."

The case formed part of Operation Aderlass, which means blood-letting in German.

Several athletes have also faced sanctions since the police operation began.

Austrian cyclist Stefan Denifl was sentenced by the Innsbruck regional court to two years in prison earlier this week, with 16 months suspended.

Austrian skier Johannes Dürr, whose blood doping revelations in a documentary by ARD in Germany sparked the Aderlass investigation, was also jailed for his involvement.

Sentences have also been given to skiers Max Hauke and Dominik Baldauf.

Cyclist Georg Preidler was spared jail last year, receiving a one-year suspended sentence.

Operation Aderlass was launched in 2019 and sparked police raids at the Nordic Ski World Championships in Seefeld in Austria and in the German city Erfurt.

Around 40 blood bags and other items associated with doping were reportedly seized during the raids in Germany.

Blood was said to have been taken around the world to Germany, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Croatia, Slovenia and the American state of Hawaii.