News 21st March 2019

21 athletes from eight nations in five sports implicated in doping network

Munich’s State Prosecutor told a press conference that 21 athletes from eight nations across five sports have been implicated in an international blood doping ring, reports Reuters. Five athletes and four others were initially arrested after police in Austria and Germany uncovered a blood doping ring, following an interview with Austrian skier Johannes Dürr. A total of nine athletes have been named in the course of investigations. 

The press conference was designed to celebrate ten years since Munich prosecutors launched a dedicated anti-doping arm. “The focus of our prosecutor is the nationwide model for criminal anti-doping and manipulation in sport”, said Bavaria’s Minister of Justice, Georg Eisenreich, in a statement. “The success of the investigative work of our prosecutors is impressively demonstrated by the numbers. At 31 December 2018, public prosecutors have obtained over 1,200 convictions for doping offences, and this is the result of hard work and dedication.”

“Despite these successes, investigators in the field of elite sport often find their hands are tied”, continued Eisenreich. “We need a leniency programme. Athletes giving whistleblower statements risk being prosecuted if they report irregular dealings to investigators. If potential whistleblowers are scared off by current headlines [i.e. doping investigations in Austria and Germany], they will unfortunately think twice before risking prosecution.” Last week, Austria’s Anti-Doping Commission (ÖADR) announced that it has provisionally suspended Dürr, whose evidence led to the police investigation.

It is understood that Bavaria plans to introduce certain immunities from prosecution for doping whistleblowers in the future. In the US, similar immunities for doping whistleblowers are outlined in the Rodchenkov Act, named after former Director of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, who outlined the Russian State’s involvement in doping athletes. “Only in this way can we succeed in the long term, and get at the key players and backers of the doping networks”, said Eisenreich.

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