Biathlon

Laura Dahlmeier
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Laura Dahlmeier, two-time Olympic biathlon champ, suddenly retires

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German biathlete Laura Dahlmeier, who won the PyeongChang Olympic sprint and pursuit, has retired at age 25.

“After an unbelievably tough season full of ups and downs, I no longer feel the one hundred percent passion required for professional sport,” was posted on Dahlmeier’s Instagram in a surprise announcement. “That’s why I have decided to end my active biathlon career after some time of reflection.”

Dahlmeier earned two golds and a bronze at her second Olympics last year. That came one year after the avid mountain climber became the first biathlete to win five gold medals at a single world championships.

Dahlmeier missed the first two World Cup stops last season due to unspecified health setbacks, including hospitalization in August and September when she feared she may never compete again.

She returned to make three World Cup podiums and earn two world championships bronze medals while still not 100 percent. Dahlmeier posted on her website Friday that she still is not the same athlete she was before the hospitalization.

Her retirement at such a young age is reminiscent of countrywoman Magdalena Neuner, who earned 12 world titles and a pair of 2010 Olympic golds and then retired at age 25 in 2012, citing a similar lack of desire.

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Dear fans, friends, partners and companions – it's time to say goodbye! 👋 After an unbelievably tough season full of ups and downs, I no longer feel the one hundred percent passion required for professional sport. That's why I have decided to end my active biathlon career after some time of reflection. Since my childhood, I have dedicated myself completely to biathlon, I was able to experience incredibly great and intense moments and got to know some wonderful companions and supporters, without whom all this would not have been possible. Many thanks for all the years I spent in this sport – they made me who I am! 🙏 To make room for new adventures, it's time for me to close the biathlon chapter. A detailed report about my reasons for ending my career can be found on my website – link in bio. I am looking forward to what is awaiting me now – see you out there! 🙂 Best, Laura ✌️ #bettertobefAst

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Clare Egan notches first World Cup podium in biathlon season finale

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In the final biathlon event of the 2018-19 season, American Clare Egan recorded her first career World Cup podium finish, placing third in the mass start in Oslo, Norway. She hit 19 of 20 targets and crossed the finish line 10.4 seconds behind winner Hanna Oberg of Sweden. Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff finished second.

Egan, 31, made her Olympic debut at the 2018 PyeongChang Games, but considered retiring from biathlon at the end of the last season. “I decided that I wanted to do one more year, just for fun, just to see how much I could learn and how good a biathlete I could become,” Egan said in a U.S. Biathlon press release.

Her decision to continue has paid off: since the start of the 2018-19 season, Egan has posted the top eight finishes of her career (including three top-10 results). She concludes the season ranked 18th in the overall World Cup standings.

“I skied much faster this year than I have in the past and I think that was due to finally finding a good balance in my training, between working hard and resting. I did not train more, but the quality was much higher. I’m very excited for the next season,” Egan told U.S. Biathlon.

Russian biathletes questioned in Austria for doping

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SALZBURG, Austria (AP) — Austrian authorities are investigating 10 members of Russia’s biathlon team for doping and fraud offenses.

Police visited the Russian team’s accommodation in Austria on Wednesday ahead of a World Cup event and spoke with athletes and staff. The case is connected to a wide-ranging bribery and doping investigation involving the International Biathlon Union, whose then-president stepped down in April following a police raid of the governing body’s offices.

Austrian prosecutors said in a statement that five Russian biathletes are suspected of “severe fraud in connection with doping,” and five team officials are suspected of “the use of prohibited substances and/or methods for the purpose of doping.” Austrian authorities have previously said they could consider prize money won by doped athletes to be fraudulent earnings.

The offenses were allegedly committed around the 2017 World Championships in Austria, prosecutors said, adding that “accused persons” have been given a formal notification they are under investigation.

No Russian athletes in any sport have yet faced criminal prosecution for a series of doping scandals which led to the country’s team being suspended from this year’s Winter Olympics.

A lawyer for Russian doping whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov said this year he provided information which led to the Austrian police action.

The Russian team is in Austria for a World Cup event, and the Russian Biathlon Union said it will “continue to compete.”

Sochi Olympic champion Anton Shipulin is “angry and furious about the witch-hunt that is going on” and has never doped, according to his Instagram.

Alexander Loginov wrote on Instagram he was accused of “some machinations with blood transfusions and something else” supposedly committed as recently as February 2017.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the overnight visit to Russian athletes ahead of a major competition looked “wild.” She added that the Russian Embassy has turned to Austrian authorities for explanation, adding that Moscow will respond if it feels the case has political undertones.

Austrian police raided the IBU headquarters in April, with prosecutors saying up to $300,000 had been paid to cover up Russian doping cases from 2012-17. Anders Besseberg, until then the only president in the IBU’s history, and general secretary Nicole Resch stepped down soon after.

Besides Russia’s team, authorities in Austria and Italy have also investigated alleged mass doping in the Kazakhstan biathlon team. Nine Kazakh athletes were suspended last month by the IBU.

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