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  • Disgraced Austrian Ski Coach Gets Jail Term


    08/18/11

    Walter Mayer was found guilty of supplying human growth hormone to Austrian athletes. (Getty Images)
    (ATR) Walter Mayer, the former Austrian biathlon coach, has been given a 15-month jail term after being found guilty of supplying athletes with banned drugs.

    Mayer, 54, was convicted of giving human growth hormones and the blood booster EPO to his countrymen between 2005 and 2009. Mayer was first arrested in March 2009. Earlier this week he pleaded not guilty.

    Twelve months of Mayer's sentence were suspended, and he has about seven more weeks left to serve of the remaining three months in custody.

    The 54-year-old was engulfed in a blood doping scandal involving Austrian biathletes at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

    After being implicated in a blood transfusion scandal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, he was barred by the IOC from attending the Winter Games through Vancouver 2010, but he then traveled to Turin in a private capacity.

    The investigation into Mayer followed a raid by Italian police during the Turin Olympics at private housing used by Austrian athletes where syringes, blood bags and performance-enhancing drugs were seized.

    The IOC sanctioned athletes and coaches and fined the Austrian Olympic Committee $1 million, which was paid by the Austrian Ski Federation.

    In a Vienna court Wednesday, Mayer's fellow defendant, named Karl Heinz R., told how he had obtained growth hormones and EPO for Mayer from a Vienna pharmacist.

    Arnold Riebenbauer, former chairman of the Austrian Ski Federation's doping commission, as well as a former ski official testified against Mayer.

    Riebenbauer claimed Mayer had told him Austrian racers were involved in blood doping at the Humanplasma laboratory in Vienna, according to an AFP report.

    Mayer has vowed to appeal the court's verdict.

    The Austrian Olympic Committee could not be reached for comment.

    Reported by Mark Bisson

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