3rd January 2018

Sweden’s biathlon coach considers legal action over PyeongChang ban

Wolfgang Pichler, the German coach of Sweden’s biathlon team, is taking legal advice after finding himself banned from the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics due to his involvement with Russian biathletes who have been sanctioned for doping. Pichler coached the Russian biathlon team from 2011 until 2014 – specifically, Jana Romanova, Olga Vilukhina and Olga Zaitseva.

The three took silver in the Sochi 2014 women’s 4x6km biathlon. Romanova and Vilukhina were sanctioned for doping by the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Oswald Commission on 27 November 2017, and Zaitseva was sanctioned for doping on 1 December 2017. ‘No coaches or medical doctors of athletes sanctioned by the Oswald Commission will be accredited for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018’, decided the IOC Executive Board 20 December.

‘This means that the head coach of the Swedish biathlon team, Wolfgang Pichler, is unlikely to receive accreditation for the Olympics in PyeongChang in February 2018’, read a statement from the Swedish biathlon federation (SSSF). ‘This is obviously a shame for the team and for Wolfgang’.

“I will take the advice of a good, experienced lawyer”, Pichler told the Münchner Merkur, arguing he was unaware of the State doping system alleged to have been operating within Russia. “And then we will see”. Romanova and Vilukhina filed appeals against their sanctions at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on 6 December, and Zaitseva filed an appeal on 11 December.

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