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Austria Investigates Russian Biathlon Team For Doping


Russia won two relay medals in Hochfilzen in 2017.

Austrian authorities say they are investigating Russia's biathlon team over alleged doping offenses dating back to last year's world championships in Austria.

The probe is targeting five athletes who are suspected of fraud in connection with doping, Austria’s prosecution office for business crime and corruption said on December 13.

It also said that five members of the team staff are suspected of administering banned substances.

Russia won two relay medals -- a gold and a bronze -- at the biathlon world championships held in the Austrian town of Hochfilzen in February 2017.

The Russian biathlon team is currently back in Hochfilzen for the latest meeting in the Biathlon World Cup series.

Russia's biathlon body said that several athletes and staff members had been questioned by police in the skiing resort.

However, the Austrian prosecutors said the suspects had only been informed about the probe.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the visit to the Russian athletes ahead of a major competition was "wild."

She also told reporters that the Russian Embassy in Vienna have asked Austrian authorities for an explanation, adding that if there was a political element to the doping allegations, "our reaction won't be long in coming."

Biathlon combines cross-country skiing and shooting.

In April, the president of the sport's world governing body -- the International Biathlon Union (IBU) -- stepped down amid allegations that he and other officials took some $300,000 in bribes to cover up doping by Russian athletes.

With reporting by dpa, AP, and AFP
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