Former Cross-Country Skier Avoids Criminal Charges

A criminal investigation into former cross-country skier Johannes Duerr has been dropped by prosecutors in Austria.

johannes duerr

According to an announcement by State prosecution spokeswoman Nina Bussek, Duerr would not be charged as this was his first offense and he did not provided banned substances to other athletes. Bussek added Duerr refunded sponsorship money and the athlete's integrity and confession were the reasons behind the dropped investigation.

Duerr, who was kicked out of the Sochi Olympics for doping, admitted to taking Erythropoietin (EPO) after he tested positive in a sample taken in Austria, where he had returned for training during the games in February 2014 after competing on February 9 in the men's skiathlon. Skiing's governing body FIS banned Johannes Duerr for two years in June last year even though he had already been expelled for life from the Austrian ski federation.

Erythropoietin is commonly used by athletes and others to promote the production of red blood cells in the body that carry oxygen to the muscles to increase endurance and stamina.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) excluded Johannes Duerr from the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi after he tested positive for the banned substance recombinant erythropoietin (EPO). Duerr was disqualified from the Men’s 15km + 15km Skiathlon event where he placed 8th and he was excluded from the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi in 2014 and his diploma in the event was withdrawn.

Duerr was sent home hours before he was expected to complete in the 50-kilometer mass start cross-country ski race. Austrian Olympic Committee President Karl Stoss said at that time that the doping case of Johannes Duerr has brought a black day for us and Stoss tried to distance his team from Duerr. Stoss also commented that the athlete himself confessed that he is the only one who did that and he takes all the responsibility on himself. Stoss has added it is a great pity that after all successful participations of the Austrian team we have had this case of doping and also said we will do everything that is needed of us to prevent this in future.

Austria's sports director for cross-country, Markus Gandler, remarked after hearing news of Duerr's failed test that the team is broken and the actions of Duerr were described by him as a matter of "heavy doping." Duerr was a leading athlete in the new generation of cross-country skiers who were making every attempt for rebuilding image of the sport in Austria. Duerr debuted on the World Cup circuit in 2011 and he finished third in 2014's overall Tour de Ski standings.

The positive test of Duerr came eight years after cross-country and biathlon teams from Austria were involved in a blood doping scandal that tarnished the 2006 Turin Olympics. Acting on a tip, Italian police raided lodgings of the Austrian cross-country and biathlon teams and seized blood doping equipment and other substances. No Austrian athlete tested positive at the 2006 Turin Olympics but many were later banned for life by the International Olympic Committee.

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