Kazakhstan Says Biathletes' Rights Abused in Doping Investigation

(ATR) KNOC and KBF say WADA procedures weren't followed even though the athletes were cleared of any wrongdoing.

Anton Pantov of Kazakstan competes during the 2017 IBU World Championships Biathlon Men's 10 km Sprint race in Hochfilzen, on February 11, 2017.  / AFP / FRANCK FIFE        (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
Anton Pantov of Kazakstan competes during the 2017 IBU World Championships Biathlon Men's 10 km Sprint race in Hochfilzen, on February 11, 2017. / AFP / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

(ATR) The Kazakhstan National Olympic Committee and national biathlon federation KBF say World Anti-Doping Agency procedures were not followed by Austrian authorities and the International Biathlon Union while investigating suspected doping by its athletes.

"Whilst we completely support the right of the Austrian authorities and the 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," the KNOC and KBF said in a joint statement.

"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."

The statement cites athletes being questioned until 5 a.m. and search and seizures during training processes that induced "fatigue and stress, which significantly limited their performances in the next day’s mixed relay event".

Ten Kazakhstani athletes were detained by Austrian authorities on the eve of the IBU World Championships in Hochfilzen, Austria on suspicions that the biathlon team was doping.

Suspicions were fueled by the seizure of a box containing syringes, IBU accreditations and medications last month in Italy that Austrian authorities say could have been "assigned to" the Kazakhstan biathlon team.

The athletes were then raided in Austria on Feb. 8 with authorities confiscating medical equipment, medicine and personal items and devices. The authorities later concluded that all medicines and supplies were not on the WADA prohibited list and the athletes' blood and urine samples tested by the Austrian Doping Lab in Seibersdorf came back negative.

The IBU says the athletes will not receive any disciplinary actions but it is unclear whether Austrian authorities and the IBU could face sanctions from WADA for the mistreatment of athletes.

Around the Rings’ request for comment from WADA regarding the supposed violation of WADA procedures has gone unanswered.

Written by Kevin Nutley

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