Police claim to have broken an ‘internationally active doping network’. PlanetSKI reports from Seefeld. UPDATED


The raids centred on the Austrian resort of Seefeld, which is hosting the Nordic World Ski Championships.

One Kazakh, two Austrian and two Estonian athletes have been arrested along with 4 other people elsewhere.

One athlete, the Austrian Max Hauke, was caught “in the act”.

“He was picked up with a blood transfusion in his arm,” Dieter Csefan from the Austrian federal police is quoted as saying.

And here is the photographic evidence just released:

Alleged drugs cheat is caught

Alleged drugs cheat is caught

The National Ski Racing Federation of Kazakhstan said four-time Olympian Alexei Poltoranin was also among those arrested.

The Federation said it was “categorically against dishonest methods” and would defend Poltoranin until it is proven that the 31-year-old double World Championships medallist had broekn anti-doping rules.

The Estonia Ski Federation said two of its athletes,  Karel Tammjarv and Andreas Veerpalu, were detained.

Austrian media reported the two athletes from the home country who were caught up in the doping raid were Max Hauke and Dominik Baldauf.

None of the five started men’s 15 kilometres cross-country classic race on Wednesday.

See here for our sports report as we watched the event by the finishing stretch.

Austrian police say the alleged doping ring was based in Erfurt, Germany.

Sixteen properties were searched today, Wednesday, nine of which German prosecutors said were in Erfurt.

A 40-year-old sports doctor is believed to be at the centre of the organisation.

The investigation was triggered by statements made by Austrian cross-country skier and doping offender, Johannes Duerr, to a German broadcaster earlier this year.
“FIS is working closely with the Austrian public authorities in view of events and will follow up the cases and take the necessary actions in accordance with the FIS and World Anti-Doping rules,”  said the International Ski Federation in a statement.

“FIS will fulfill its mandate as the governing body to ensure that the integrity of the sport remains intact and to protect all clean athletes.”

I was watching the Nordic World Championships on Wednesday in Seefeld as news broke.

Most people were shocked to hear about such alleged systematic cheating and demanded they be bought to justice.

Today at the Nordic World Championships, Seefeld

Today at the Nordic World Championships, Seefeld

The main event today was the Men’s 15km Classic.

Nordic World Championships, Seefled

Nordic World Championships, Seefeld

It was very competitively fought out and the general reaction of the crowd was that people who dope undermine and show utter disrespect to those that compete fairly and squarely.

GB’s Andrew Musgrave, who finished a best-ever eighth in the men’s 15km Classic cross-country skiing in Seefeld on Wednesday, said he was “shocked” after hearing the news of the doping arrests.

In a social media post, Musgrave said it had overshadowed one of his “best ever classic races”.

He added: “Every ounce of my respect is gone”.

Musgrave comments on Twitter

Musgrave comments on Twitter

GB Snowsport has given its reaction to the BBC.

GB Snowsport said the news had been “shocking and disappointing”.

Chief executive Vicky Gosling said: “The events which have transpired in Austria today are extremely disappointing and show that doping remains a serious issue in elite sport.”

“The athletes and staff on the cross country skiing World Cup circuit all know each other very well so today’s news has been both shocking and disappointing.”

“It certainly takes the gloss off a fantastic 15km race today which featured historic results from Andrew Musgrave and Andrew Young (36th).

“Our sportsmen and sportswomen deserve to participate and compete in a doping-free environment.”

“GB Snowsport continues to work with UK Anti-Doping to ensure our athletes and team staff are aware of their responsibilities to keep sport clean.”

The race was won by Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby, ahead of Alexander Bessmertnykh of Russia and Finland’s Iivo Niskanen.

15km race, Seefeld, Nordic World Ski Champs

15km race, Seefeld, Nordic World Ski Champs

Austrian media quoted an official from the country’s skiing federation as saying the two Austrians arrested were cross-country skiers Max Hauke and Dominik Baldauf, both 26.

The President of the Austrian Ski Federation (OSV) Peter Schröcksnadel said he is shocked and that the Championships have now been overshadowed by a doping scandal.

“At the same time, the ÖSV would like to thank the investigating authorities for uncovering this obviously international doping network, which has been operating for years, and hopes that the backers and masterminds will be held accountable,” he said.

“Nothing is more vile than buying better results through illegal performance-enhancing methods.”

“I am deeply annoyed that some athletes seem to have learned nothing from the past.”

“In the ÖSV zero tolerance applies to doping.”

Further news has been given by Dieter Csefan of the Austrian federal police, and Innsbruck public prosecutor spokesperson, Hansjoerg Mayr.

Dieter Csefan and Hans Joergmayr

Dieter Csefan and Hansjoerg Mayr

Here at PlanetSKI we will be updating this story as we receive further details.

The Austrian team was caught cheating at the 2006 Olympics in Turin.

The headquarters were raided by Italian police and drugs testers in a high-profile doping scandal.

6 athletes were banned for life after the discovery of syringes and other drug taking equipment.

The Austrian Olympic Committee was fined for violating anti-doping rules.

We reported on it at the time on PlanetSKI.

The Nordic sport itself, though once again tarnished, remains a highly enjoyable spectacle with some stunning athletic performances.

Plus PlanetSKI’s Jane Peel is currently in Norway and has been trying out cross-country skiing for the first time in its birthplace.