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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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MORE: Russia Olympic biathlon gold medalists face doping charges

Russia Olympic biathlon gold medalists face doping charges

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Yevgeny Ustyugov and Svetlana Sleptsova, two of Russia’s six gold medalists from the 2010 Olympics, are among four Russian biathletes charged with some of the nation’s latest doping violations, the International Biathlon Union said Friday.

The IBU cases derive from doping samples collected between 2012 and 2015 and are corroborated by information from the Richard McLaren report into Russian sports doping.

None of Ustyugov, Sleptsova and Alexander Chernysev have competed on the top international level in at least one year. The only active biathlete charged, Alexander Pechenkin, was provisionally suspended.

Russian media named Ustyugov, Sleptsova, Chernysev and Pechenkin as four biathletes charged with doping violations three months ago, when the IBU announced that four unnamed Russians’ cases would be brought to a doping hearing panel if the violations were not accepted.

Ustyugov, 33, earned one of Russia’s two individual Olympic gold medals in 2010. The nation’s disappointing results across all sports in Vancouver, along with hosting the next Winter Games in Sochi, helped lead to what McLaren’s 2016 report called “the well-oiled systemic cheating scheme” put in place ahead of the 2014 Olympics.

Russia’s other individual gold medalist from 2010, cross-country skier Nikita Kryukov, was banned from the Olympics for life by the IOC last November but reinstated upon appeal in January. He was still not invited to the PyeongChang Games by the IOC.

Sleptsova was part of Russia’s gold-medal relay team in 2010 anchored by Olga Zaitseva, who was implicated in the mass Sochi doping and stripped of her 2014 relay silver.

In 2014, Ustyugov was part of Russia’s Olympic champion relay team.

MORE: Biathlon president steps down after doping raid

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Olympic champion biathlete injured when ski pole lodges into his leg

Sweden Biathlon Union
Sweden Biathlon Union
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Swedish Olympic champion biathlete Peppe Femling suffered a not-for-the-faint-hearted injury Thursday, when one of his ski poles lodged deep into his right leg as he dived to avoid a car, according to reports.

Femling, a 26-year-old who helped Sweden to surprise men’s relay gold in PyeongChang, got hurt while warming up for a roller-ski competition in Norway.

“The progress report right now says everything looks good even if it in the pictures in various media doesn’t look so good,” was posted on Femling’s social media, according to a Facebook translation. ” …. continued the rod in the leg but will hopefully soon into the operating room and take it out.”

“The pole stuck out one meter the other side,” coach Johan Haeggstroem said, according to a Reuters translation of a TT news agency quote.

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MORE BIATHLON: Triple Olympic gold medalist from Sochi retires

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