Visma-Lease A Bike rider Michel Hessmann won’t face criminal charges in Germany for doping after the Freiburg Public Prosecutor’s Office closed its investigation.
The 22-year-old German could still yet face a ban from the sport, with the National Anti-doping Agency of Germany (NADA) continuing to investigate his case. but he will avoid any subsequent criminal charges.
The well-informed Wielerflits website first reported the news and the Visma-Lease a Bike team confirmed the closure of the criminal investigation to Cyclingnews.
Hessmann tested positive for a diuretic in an out-of-competition test in June last year, just after he completed the Giro d’Italia and helped Primož Roglič win the Corsa Rosa.
He was removed from active racing by Jumbo-Visma when the news broke in August but the case is still ongoing. Hessmann was missing from the Visma-Lease a Bike’s 2024 team presentation earlier this week and his last race was the UCI Road World Championships in Glasgow.
Hessmann has avoided criminal charges but faces a long ban from the sport unless he can prove he ingested the diuretic via a contaminated supplement. He could still be banned for up to two years.
Doping is a criminal offence in Germany with a prison sentence for serious offences but initial charges were reportedly dropped after the prosecutor’s office said that “there is no or insufficient suspicion of a criminal offence.”
As a part of the investigation, which started in the summer of 2023 after he returned the positive test, Hessmann’s home was searched and electronic items were taken for analysis.
Visma-Lease a Bike team manager Richard Plugge described the day the team received the news regarding Hessmann’s positive test as “a black day” for the dominant WorldTour team.
“For the first time in ten years, we received the message that a rider from our team, Michel Hessmann, had a positive doping test,” Plugge said. “We had to look in the mirror ourselves, are we doing everything right?”
Plugge recently suggested to the Radio Cycling podcast that Hessmann’s positive could have been sparked by contamination but offered no information on how or why that occurred and if it involved team-issue supplements.
“It looks like something like pollution, but I have no certainty about that. We have to wait for the official results from NADA,” Plugge said.