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Russia protests to Italy over raid on biathlete

March 07, 2020

MOSCOW: Russia has issued an official protest to Italy over a police raid targeting its biathlete Alexander Loginov as he competed at the world championships, the foreign ministry said Friday.

Police raided the Russian team’s hotel at Rasen-Antholz (Rasun-Anterselva in Italian) early in the morning on February 22 over suspicions of doping by Loginov and his trainer.No charges were brought against the 28-year-old, who had previously served a ban for using prohibited substances.

Loginov dropped out of the final mass-start event the next day, with the country’s federation saying he was no longer in the “right frame of mind” to compete after winning 10 kilometre sprint gold earlier in the championship

“An official protest was expressed to the Italian side over the search early in the morning of February 22 on the Russian biathlete and his personal trainer,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told journalists. The ministry called the searches “unacceptable and disproportionate” and warned they would have a “negative influence” on sporting relations between the countries, she said.

Loginov served a two-year ban for using the banned blood booster EPO from November 2014 to November 2016.This made his medal performance at Rasen-Antholz, with sprint gold and bronze in the pursuit, controversial to some. Russia has been at the centre of a doping scandal since 2015 revelations of long-term institutional doping involving senior Russian officials, secret agents and trafficked urine vials.

Its team was not allowed to compete at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang and is set to be excluded from this summer’s Tokyo Olympics unless it wins an appeal against a four-year ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).