Austrian police investigates man who leaked raid video

VIENNA (AP) — A police video showing Austrian skier Max Hauke apparently caught with a needle in his arm during a doping raid has led to consequences for the leaker.

Austria’s Federal Police Office said yesterday the person who shared the video on a messaging app was “immediately removed from duty”. It did not identify the man or his job, saying only that he faced criminal and departmental disciplinary measures.

The video of Wednesday’s raid in Seefeld, posted online by a Norwegian news portal, shows Hauke apparently with a banned blood transfusion going into his arm while a police investigator stands in the background.

Police spokesman Vincenz Kriegs confirmed the video showed Hauke.

Police raids in Erfurt, Germany, and at the Nordic skiing world championships in Seefeld led to the arrests of five elite skiers and four other people on Wednesday.

Hauke and Dominik Baldauf were the two Austrian skiers arrested. The others were four-time Olympian Alexei Poltoranin of Kazakhstan, and Estonian teammates Karel Tammjarv and Andreas Veerpalu.

Austrian Federal Police officers stand at the finish area of a men’s cross country skiing 15km classic competition, at the Nordic Ski World. – AP

All five were provisionally suspended yesterday, the International Ski Federation (FIS) said.

“If there is a silver lining, 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,” FIS President Gian Franco Kasper said.

The doctor at the centre of the case is Mark Schmidt, who worked for the Gerolsteiner cycling team around the time Austrian rider Bernhard Kohl was stripped of third place at the 2008 Tour de France for doping.

Schmidt was arrested in Erfurt, where he has a medical practice. The remaining three people arrested were associates. Blood bags were reportedly seized in the raid.

Tammjarv said at a news conference in Innsbruck that he was first offered a transfusion by Schmidt in 2016 and that he went to Berlin and Frankfurt for treatment on several occasions.

Tammjarv said he first received treatment before the 2017 Nordic worlds in Lahti, Finland, and said Schmidt travelled to competitions with an associate to treat him.

Schmidt, who has always denied involvement in doping, treated football players, swimmers, weightlifters, handball players and track and field athletes, news agency dpa reported.