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February 10, 2017

Police in doping raid on Kazak team at worlds


February 10, 2017

HOCHFILZEN, Austria: Austrian police raided the Kazak team hotel at the World Biathlon Championships and seized doping-related materials, investigators said Thursday.

Medical products, medicines and portable telephones were seized in the raid by 30 police late Wednesday. The championships started Thursday in Hochfilzen with the mixed relay in which a Kazak team took part.

Police spokesman Vincent Kriegs said investigators are probing potential breaches of Austrian anti-doping legislation as well as sports fraud by the team.

The raid followed the seizure of material from a van near the frontier that was found to belong to the Kazak team, police added.

Biathlon is already under a cloud over doping following revelation in Richard McLaren’s report on Russian doping and the decision to strip Russia of hosting rights for the next World championships.

Kazakhstan has also faced multiple doping accusations though it has denied any problem.

Three Kazakh weightlifters were last year stripped of gold medals won the at the 2012 London Olympics. Its cycling has also seen repeat doping cases and other sports remain under suspicion.

“Yesterday, the federal police checked all the athletes rooms,” Manas Ussenov, the Kazak biathlon federation secretary, told AFP.

“They found in the room of our doctor some medicine. But according to our doctor, we have all the documentation for these medicines. We are not worried. We are just waiting for the results of the investigations.”

The raid came after a witness tipped off police about a suspicious rendez-vous at a petrol station in Western Tyrol in January in which a vast quantity of what appeared to be medical waste supplied were unloaded from a package by occupants of several minibuses and handed to an individual.

The consignment seized by investigators contained used syringes, sprays, injection vials, written notes and other materials including accreditation documents for biathlon events, police said.

The equipment was passed on to the Austrian National Anti-Doping Agency, which concluded they belonged to the Kazak team.

The Innsbruck prosecution service issued a warrant for the raid on the Kazak hotel.

The announcement came after the International Biathlon Union said Kazak athletes had undergone blood and urine tests for doping.

Already this week, the IBU stripped Russia of the right to host the 2021 Biathlon World Championships following McLaren report revelations concerning 31 cases of doping involving Russian biathletes.

The IBU will reattribute the hosting rights at its 2018 congress.

The Russian Biathlon Union pulled out of hosting the 2017 junior world championships and a World Cup event of its own accord, explaining it wished to end suspicions and rumours.

The IBU dropped charges against 22 of the Russian biathletes for lack of evidence.

On Thursday Germany won the first biathlon gold of the championships storming to victory in the mixed relay ahead of France in second with Russia coming third.


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