At a news conference in Innsbruck, Austria today, the Federal Criminal Police Office (the equivalent of the FBI in Austria) clarified that several athletes had been arrested for doping.
This remains a developing story. However, Tiroler Tageszeitung reports that Austrian cross-country skiers Dominik Baldauf and Maz Hauke were arrested for “blood doping”. Austrian police claimed a Kazakh and two Estonian athletes were also arrested.
Baldauf and Hauke were paired in the men’s team sprint at the 2019 World Championships where they placed sixth overall.
“It has turned out that in several places athletes have been caught in illicit methods or during doping,” said Markus Gandler, head of Austria’s cross-country and biathlon programs and himself a former cross-country athlete. “Unfortunately, that affects me, two athletes of us are there. They have been arrested, Baldauf and Hauke. They are gone, I have not seen them.”
Back in 2007, several Austrian biathletes and cross-country skiers were declared “permanently ineligible” from future Olympic sport for doping violations. And in 2014, Johannes Dürr, another Austrian cross-country skier, admitted to systematic blood doping.
Listed as Did Not Start (DNS) on the official results from today’s 15 k classic race were Estonians Karle Tammjärve and Andreas Veerpalu along with Kazakh classic ski specialist Alexey Poltoranin.
In a translated news report from sportschau.de, Poltoranin’s name is mentioned as one of the possible athletes taken into custody. Poltoranin is a two-time World Championship bronze medalist. The Estonian news site sport.delfi.ee confirms that Tammjärve and Veerpalu were the two Estonians arrested.
According to the translated news report in Tiroler Tageszeitung, Dieter Csefan of the Federal Criminal Police Office stated at the press conference that one of the athletes was arrested with a “blood transfusion in his arm”.
A physician from Erfurt, Germany was also arrested as part of the sting. According to reports, Austrian authorities have coordinated with police in Germany with the anti-doping investigation.
The sportschau.de article notes the lab in Erfurt was seized with “doping preparations, blood bags, blood transfusions, and a centrifuge”. The translated report states that Dr. Mark Schmidt, a German physician who worked for the German cycling team Gerolsteiner, is involved with the doping ring. Schmidt has been accused of helping athletes dope in the past.
-Chelsea Little contributed
This story will be updated as it develops.