Austrian police raided the lodgings of Kazakhstan’s national biathlon team outside of Hochfilzen, Austria, on Thursday morning. The Kazakh team is there to compete at World Championships, where they finished 11th in the opening competition, a mixed relay, later in the day.
“Numerous medical devices and medications were seized,” the Criminal Intelligence Service of Austria wrote in a statement translated by the International Biathlon Union. “The investigations are still underway.”
Apparently, a month ago someone spotted a minivan of people tossing a cardboard box in the trash at a gas station in another part of Austria. Team accreditations in the box linked it to the Kazakh squad, and the other items were alarming: according to the Associated Press, it contained needles, materials for infusions, and ampules of medicine, along with written notes indicating that doping was taking place.
“We are not worried,” Manas Ussenov, the Secretary General of the Kazakh Biathlon Association, said according to the BBC. “They found in the room of our doctor some medicine. But according to our doctor, we have all the documentation for these medicines.”
On Thursday, 30 police personnel descended on the hotel in Hochfilzen and collected medicine, equipment, and cell phones from the Kazakh team. After the mixed relay all the team members were given anti-doping tests.
Austria has strict criminal laws about doping, which is part of what spurred the police investigation.
“We fully trust the investigations by the authorities,” International Biathlon Union Secretary General Nicole Resch told the AP. “Until now, we don’t know if banned substances or banned methods are involved. Only then we can take measures.”
The team is not suspended at the moment.
Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.