NewsNordic skiing-Austria to fight coach's life ban

FasterSkier FasterSkierMay 15, 2003

VIENNA, May 13 (Reuters) –
Austria's ski federation (OeSV) said on Tuesday it would appeal against the life ban slapped on its cross-country and biathlon ski team coach Walter Mayer by the International Ski Federation (FIS) for alleged doping.

The FIS also banned cross country skiers Marc Mayer and Achim Walcher from all competition until March 20 2005, after the discovery of blood transfusion equipment in a chalet during the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City last year.

“We can confirm that Walter Mayer has been banned from all activity within the FIS for life and that Marc Mayer and Achim Walcher have both been suspended for two years over the incidents during the Salt Lake City Games,” said FIS secretary general Sarah Lewis.

The OeSV said the basis for the decision appeared to come from testimony by FIS medical committee chairman Bengt Saltin, who said at the time that the Austrians had used performance-enhancing measures.

“This clearly contradicts the situation as stated in three reports presented to the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) that showed the implemented therapy by Walter Mayer was not a performance-enhancing measure,” OeSV president Peter Schroecksnadel said on Tuesday.

“For that reason the sanction imposed by the FIS is inappropriate and contestable,” he said, adding that Mayer would appeal with legal support from the OeSV.

The three Austrians and German chiropractor Volker Mueller were initially penalised by the IOC in May 2002 after a three-month investigation and both skiers had their results in Salt Lake City removed from the records.

An appeal was lodged in July 2002 saying that the blood treatments were used as a therapeutic remedy rather than to enhance performance. But in March the CAS in Lausanne upheld the IOC's initial findings that the methods constituted blood doping but ruled that Mueller had not committed a doping offence, changing his suspension to a strong warning about his future conduct.

Walter Mayer steered Austria's cross country team to their first ever Olympic medals in Nordic skiing at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, to gold in the relay at the 1999 world championships in Ramsau, Austria, and to two further medals at the Salt Lake Games.

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