An Austrian cross-country skier was caught red-handed by police as part of a number of arrests made during the Nordic World Ski Championships, held in Seefeld, Austria.
Leaked footage from the arrest apparently shows Max Hauke giving himself an illegal blood transfusion in an attempt to improve his performance.
Nine people from the world of skiing, including Hauke, have been arrested so far over the doping claims. 120 police officers carried out a number of raids on 16 properties, in what has been dubbed ‘Operation Bloodletting’.
Hauke is an Olympic skier, and represented his country in the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.
The leaked video reportedly shows Hauke with a cannular in his left arm, in the middle of giving himself a blood transfusion.
This type of doping – known as ‘blood doping’ – involves injecting oxygenated blood into the athlete in order to increase their red blood cell mass, meaning the body can transport more oxygen to the muscles and thereby increasing the athlete’s stamina, BBC News reports.
There are three common substances and methods of blood doping – synthetic oxygen carriers, blood transfusions, and erythropoietin (EPO), all of which are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).
EPO is a hormone, it is produced naturally in the body and stimulates red blood cell production. However, Wada warns that misusing it can lead to ‘serious health risks’, as it thickens the blood and can therefore lead to ‘an increased risk of several deadly diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and cerebral or pulmonary embolism’.
The video of Hauke was reportedly filmed by police officers during the raid, who allegedly leaked it to the Norwegian broadcaster NRK. A police officer is now facing investigation for leaking the footage to the press.
You can view it here:
— Yohan Roblin (@yohanroblin) March 1, 2019
So far, nine people have been arrested, with officers apparently finding a blood doping laboratory in Erfurt, Germany. A 40-year-old sports doctor, known only as Mark S, has also been arrested, and is believed to be a central figure in the doping ring, according to reports.
Estonian athletes Karel Tammjärv and Andreas Veerpalu were also arrested. In a press conference today, March 1, Tammjärv admitted that he had started seeing his ‘doping doctor’ in 2016, after being told there was a doctor in Germany who could help him improve his performance.
The Austrian skiing team’s coach, Trond Nystad, has stepped down from his position after seeing the footage of Hauke, saying he has ‘no desire to work with the Austrian ski club anymore’. Nystad added he had no idea the doping was going on, and would’ve reported it if he did, as he has ‘zero tolerance’ for doping.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.