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15 Dec, 2018 10:59

‘No evidence provided by Austria to show Russian biathletes guilty of doping’ – ambassador

‘No evidence provided by Austria to show Russian biathletes guilty of doping’ – ambassador

Russia’s ambassador to Austria has said that no proof has been provided to show Russian biathletes are guilty of doping offences, after Austrian police made an unannounced visit to the team’s camp in Hochfilzen.

Officers questioned Russian athletes and officials – who are in Austria preparing for a Biathlon World Cup event – on Wednesday over allegations of doping from 2017.

Taking banned performance-enhancing drugs can carry criminal charges in Austria, with athletes facing up to three years in prison if found guilty.

Also on rt.com Austrian police question Russian biathlon team on suspicion of doping violations

Following a meeting between a lawyer and representatives of the Austrian prosecutor's office, the Russian Embassy in Vienna said that no evidence had been provided of any guilt.

"In accordance with the information we have at the moment about the investigation opened by the Austrian authorities into athletes and specialists of our national team, Russian Ambassador in Austria Dmitry Lyubinsky notes that no evidence was provided to prove that our athletes are guilty," the embassy said, TASS reported.

"The presumption of innocence is in force. There are no restrictions for freedom of movements for the team," it added.

Also on rt.com ‘A serious & disturbing signal’: Russian anti-doping chief on allegations against biathlon team

The International Biathlon Union (IBU) said on Saturday that its Executive Board had discussed the ongoing Austrian police investigation, but that “no action is warranted at this time.”

“In part, this is because the Austrian authorities have not provided any additional information to the IBU concerning the ongoing investigations beyond what was published,” it added.

Prominent Russian biathlon pundit Dmitry Guberniev has posted the names of those reportedly under suspicion, including 2014 Olympic relay champions Anton Shipulin and Alexey Volkov, Sochi medalist Evgeny Garanichev, as well as Alexander Loginov. 

The case reportedly centers on claims of manipulating blood transfusions at the 2017 World Cup event in Hochfilzen.  

READ MORE: WADA to access Moscow anti-doping lab data next week

The news of the police investigation drew an angry response from the Russian Foreign Ministry, with spokesperson Maria Zakharova dismissing the allegations as “wild.”

READ MORE: ‘Wild allegations’: Russian Foreign Ministry hits back at Austrian doping probe into biathlon team

"I really don’t understand what’s going on in Europe and what traditions have started to emerge there to make a night raid on the Russian camp on the eve of important sports competitions.

“They created a strange, destabilizing and depressing situation of threats while trying to explain something and hand over some notifications,” she said.