Kazakhstani Biathletes Released Without Charge by Austrian Police
Hochfilzen (Austria), 15 February 2017– The Kazakhstan National Biathlon Federation (KBF), in cooperation with the Kazakhstan National Olympic Committee (KNOC), has confirmed that 10 KBF athletes were detained by the Federal Criminal Police Office (Austria) on 8 February and that all were subsequently released without charge. Furthermore, all the athletes were then tested in full compliance with WADA anti-doping procedures for all banned substances, and all the Kazakhstani athletes returned a negative result.
This outcome comes as absolutely no surprise to the KBF and KNOC as the protection of clean athletes and the fight against doping, in all forms, remains a top priority for all anti-doping stakeholders in Kazakhstan.
Whilst we completely support the right of the Austrian authorities and the International Biathlon Union (IBU) to rigorously pursue all anti-doping detection procedures, this has to be conducted based on internationally recognized standards of fairness and the presumption of innocence granted for all athletes involved. Such procedures are clearly outlined in the WADA Code of Conduct.
Therefore, it is with regret that the KBF / KNOC believe such procedures have been ignored on this occasion and that the Kazakhstani athletes involved have had their fundamental rights abused by this detention. In particular, our athletes have complained of continuous interviews until 5 a.m., personal data exemption, and search and seizure activities during the ongoing training process. This excessive and wrongful treatment of the athletes resulted in fatigue and stress, which significantly limited their performances in the next day’s mixed relay event. We urge the Austrian authorities and the IBU to investigate the whole process and treatment of the Kazakhstani athletes at the earliest opportunity to ensure such an incident is never repeated.
We are pleased to note that the IBU acknowledges the innocence of all Kazakhstani biathlon athletes tested, but we are concerned that a further shadow is being cast over our athletes by allowing them to be linked to the further Austrian police tests of substances seized from the KBF team on 8 February.
For the avoidance of doubt, these ongoing tests are not connected to our athletes who have not only proven their innocence but have paid the ultimate price by having their performances seriously weakened by a process designed to protect them and allow them to reach their full potential as clean athletes.
The KBF / KNOC continue to work collaboratively with all stakeholders in this unfortunate situation and will not comment further until the outcome of the on-going police investigations into the KBF team doctor are known.
Finally we would like to thank the International Biathlon Union and IBU World Championships 2017 Organizing Committee for the understanding and position taken regarding the incident with the Kazakhstan national biathlon team.
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