Police raids, multiple arrests and a disturbing video gone viral — this has not been a good week for cross-country skiing at the Nordic world championships in Austria.
On Friday, five athletes swept up in an alleged doping scheme — two Austrians, two Estonians and a Kazakhstani — were handed suspensions by various international and national organizations.
“While the events of the last few days have shed a negative light on the sport, it also sends a clear signal that doping will not be tolerated,” Gian Franco Kasper, president of the international ski federation, said in a statement.
The latest developments stem from a long-term investigation into German sports doctor Mark Schmidt, who has also been linked to cheating in the sport of cycling.
Authorities conducted their raids in Germany, where Schmidt has a practice, and at the championships in Seefeld, Austria.
Video of Austrian athlete Max Hauke, surrounded by police, a needle in his arm, was leaked to the Internet. Hauke was allegedly caught in the act while receiving an improper blood transfusion before the competition.
With the German investigation continuing, ski officials have launched their own anti-doping cases against offenders in the sport.
“If there is a silver lining,” Kasper said, “I hope that this decisive action sends a clear message to other athletes that there will be severe personal, legal and sporting consequences against doping offenders.”
The championships, which include cross-country, Nordic combined and ski jumping, continue through Sunday.