Five skiers from Austria, Kazakhstan and Estonia were arrested in anti-doping raids at the Nordic skiing world championships in the Austrian resort of Seefeld, police reported on Wednesday. The raids are part of a broader operation targeting a Germany-based “criminal organisation” suspected of having carried out blood doping for years. A 40-year-old sports doctor is believed to be at the centre of the organisation, the police said, adding that he was also arrested on Wednesday in Germany
In total nine people have been arrested in 16 raids in Seefeld and Germany with one of the athletes caught in the act of doping, officials said.
Munich’s state prosecutor’s office said the investigation was triggered by statements made by the Austrian cross-country skier and doping offender Johannes Dürr to a German broadcaster earlier this year. Dürr, who was caught doping during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, had talked to the German broadcaster ARD in January.
Two of the skiers arrested in Seefeld are from Austria, two are Estonian and one is from Kazakhstan, the police said. 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.
“Athletes have been caught using unauthorised methods or substances. Unfortunately, it shocks me, two of our athletes are among them. They have been taken into custody, Baldauf and Hauke,” the federation’s sporting director for cross-country skiing and biathlon, Markus Gandler, told the APA news agency.The World Anti-Doping Agency said it had provided information to the investigation. “The raids were part of a wider police operation targeting criminals from a number of European countries, and Wada’s intelligence and investigations department has been providing information and other assistance to the authorities in the course of their operation,” Wada said in a statement.
Two other people were arrested in Seefeld while another two, including the sports doctor, were arrested in Germany, the police said. The raids are part of an investigation that has lasted several months on suspicion of “professional sport fraud” and “use of prohibited substances and methods for doping purposes”. Reuters