Kazakhstan says 4-time Olympian arrested in doping raids

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan (AP) — Four-time Olympian Alexei Poltoranin was among five skiers arrested in Austrian police raids targeting an alleged doping network centered on a doctor who once worked with Tour de France cyclists.

Poltoranin, who has won two world championship medals, did not start the 15-kilometer race at the world championships after Wednesday’s raids.

The Kazakh Olympic Committee said Thursday that Poltoranin had been arrested. Samal Nauryzova, a spokeswoman for the Kazakh cross-country ski federation, said “we will defend our athlete,” adding the federation is waiting to see proof.

According to the Austria Press Agency, Austrian ski federation official Markus Gandler told ORF television that Max Hauke and Dominik Baldauf were also arrested. Hauke and Baldauf work for the Austrian police, according to a recent interior ministry news release congratulating them on finishing in sixth place in the team sprint at the worlds.

The other two athletes suspected of involvement in the doping ring are Estonian teammates Karel Tammjarv and Andreas Veerpalu, the Estonian ski federation said in a statement.

Veerpalu, who competed at last year’s Olympics, is the son of the two-time Olympic gold medalist Andrus Veerpalu, who was acquitted of a doping charge in 2013 by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

In that case, the CAS panel ruled that “there are many factors in this case which tend to indicate” that Andrus Veerpalu had taken human growth hormone, but the testing procedure wasn’t reliable enough for a guilty verdict.

The doctor at the center 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 on Wednesday in Erfurt, Germany, where he has a medical practice.

The remaining three people arrested Wednesday by Austrian and German authorities were described by Austrian officials as the doctor’s associates. The case could spread to other sports, Austrian officials said.

Davide Rebellin dies after hit by truck while training

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MILAN — Italian cyclist Davide Rebellin, one of the sport’s longest-serving professionals, died after being struck by a truck while training. He was 51.

Rebellin was riding near the town of Montebello Vicentino in northern Italy when he was hit by a truck near a motorway junction. The vehicle did not stop, although Italian media reported that the driver may have been unaware of the collision.

Local police are working to reconstruct the incident and find the driver.

Rebellin had only retired from professional cycling last month, bringing to an end a career that had spanned 30 years. He last competed for Work Service-Vitalcare-Dynatek and the UCI Continental team posted a tribute on its social media accounts.

“Dear Davide, keep pedaling, with the same smile, the same enthusiasm and the same passion as always,” the Italian team said. “This is not how we imagined the future together and it is not fair to have to surrender so suddenly to your tragic absence.”

“To your family, your loved ones, your friends and all the enthusiasts who, like us, are crying for you right now, we just want to say that we imagine you on a bicycle, looking for new roads, new climbs and new challenges even up there, in the sky.”

Rebellin’s successes included victories at Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico as well as winning a stage in the 1996 edition of the Giro d’Italia, which he also led for six stages.

Rebellin won silver in the road race at the 2008 Olympic Games, but he was later stripped of his medal and banned for two years after a positive doping test. He had denied wrongdoing.

CAS upholds Nairo Quintana DQ from Tour de France for opioid use

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland – The disqualification of two-time Tour de France runner-up Nairo Quintana from his sixth place in the 2022 race for misuse of an opioid was confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

CAS said its judges dismissed Quintana’s appeal and agreed with the International Cycling Union that the case was a medical matter rather than a doping rules violation. He will not be banned.

The court said the judges ruled “the UCI’s in-competition ban on tramadol was for medical rather than doping reasons and was therefore within the UCI’s power and jurisdiction.”

Traces of the synthetic painkiller tramadol were found in two dried blood spot samples taken from the Colombian racer five days apart in July, the UCI previously said.

Quintana’s case is among the first to rely on the dried blood spot (DBS) method of collecting samples which the World Anti-Doping Agency approved last year.

Tramadol was banned in 2019 from use at cycling races because of potential side effects. They include the risk of addiction, dizziness, drowsiness and loss of attention.

Quintana finished second in the Tour de France in 2013 and 2015, won both times by Chris Froome. He won the 2014 Giro d’Italia.