12th April 2018

IBU staff step aside after police raids

The President of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) has stepped aside and its Secretary General has been provisionally suspended, whilst investigations continue into allegations that Russian doping cases were covered up in return for bribes. On 10 April, the Austrian Federal Criminal Police searched the IBU headquarters in Salzburg, which the IBU said was part of an investigation focusing on IBU President Anders Besseberg and Secretary General Nicole Resch. Today, the IBU confirmed that Besseberg has stepped aside and Resch has been provisionally suspended, after initially stepping aside.

In an emailed statement, Austrian police said that the preliminary investigation concerned allegations against IBU officials, as well as supervisors and athletes of the Russian biathlon team. It has previously been alleged that a former President of the Russian Biathlon Union (RBU) bribed an athlete to stay quiet about doping. In an affidavit (PDF below) provided to the Schmid Commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), former Director of the Moscow Laboratory, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, alleged that Mikhail Prokhorov had bribed biathlete Irina Starykh to keep her quiet about being instructed to inject erythropoietin (EPO) by Stanislav (Statik) Dmitriev.

Prokhorov, the Russian owner of National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise the Brooklyn Nets, is understood to be one of the financial backers behind a defamation lawsuit launched by three biathletes against Dr. Rodchenkov. He was appointed as President of the Russian Biathlon Union (RBU) in 2008, but was replaced by Alexander Kravtsov in May 2014, after the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

Victor Maygurov was appointed as Vice President of the RBU by Kravtsov, and has also been IBU Vice President since 5 September 2014. There is no suggestion that he is involved – Austrian police said that they would not name those being investigated. However in August 2011, it was reported that Maygurov was dismissed from a post as Director of the Yugra Department of Physical Culture and Sports that he had held since 2009. It is understood that a Diploma of Higher Education he had relied upon in order to secure the post had been faked, and he was required to return his salary.

Austrian police said that the allegations that it is investigating involve the use of prohibited substances and methods, as well as fraud relating to doping and the receipt of gifts by staff. The police statement revealed that the doping offences mainly concern the 2017 Biathlon World Championships in Hochfilzen, but the corruption allegations date back to 2012. For doping offences, offenders face imprisonment of up to six months and a fine; for fraud allegations up to three years imprisonment; and for corruption, imprisonment of up to five years is possible.

The police statement said it has been alleged that corruption occurred when suspected doping cases, which were brought to the IBU’s attention by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), were not acted upon in return for bribes of US$300,000. Police said potential damages ranged from €35,000 in cases of doping to €240,000 (US$300,000) in cases of corruption.

Searches have also been conducted in Germany and Norway, following information provided by WADA, read the statement. Besseberg, a Norwegian former biathlete, has been President of the IBU since 1993, and Resch is a German jurist.

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