Astana: Four-time Olympian Alexei Poltoranin was among five skiers arrested in Austrian police raids targeting an alleged doping network, the Kazakhstan Olympic Committee said Thursday.
Poltoranin, who has won two world championship medals, did not start the 15-kilometer race at the world championships after Wednesday's raids.
Samal Nauryzova, a spokeswoman for the Kazakh cross-country ski federation, said "we will defend our athlete," adding the federation is waiting to see proof.
According to the Austria Press Agency, Austrian ski federation official Markus Gandler told ORF television that Max Hauke and Dominik Baldauf were also arrested. Hauke and Baldauf work for the Austrian police, according to a recent interior ministry news release congratulating them on finishing in sixth place in the team sprint at the worlds.
The other two athletes suspected of involvement in the doping ring are Estonian teammates Karel Tammjarv and Andreas Veerpalu, the Estonian ski federation said in a statement.
Veerpalu, who competed at last year's Olympics, is the son of the two-time Olympic gold medalist Andrus Veerpalu, who was acquitted of a doping charge in 2013 by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
In that case, the CAS panel ruled that "there are many factors in this case which tend to indicate" that Andrus Veerpalu had taken human growth hormone, but the testing procedure wasn't reliable enough for a guilty verdict.
Four other people were arrested Wednesday in Austria and Germany, police said. They were described by Austrian authorities as a doctor in the German city of Erfurt who was allegedly involved in doping and three of his associates. The case could spread to other sports, Austrian officials said.
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Updated Date: Feb 28, 2019 20:06:21 IST