German journalist: Alaver key figure in doping network

Mati Alaver at Harju County Court.
Mati Alaver at Harju County Court. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Former national ski coach Mati Alaver was a key figure in sports physician Dr. Mark Schmidt's doping network, according to well-known German investigative journalist Hajo Seppelt.

"After the arrest of Mark Schmidt, I heard from my sources that Alaver was one of the most important figures for Schmidt and company, someone who worked both for them and with them," Seppelt told Eesti Ekspress (link in Estonian).

"A key element for the functioning of the system, in relation to him I heard the nickname "the General". If other information regarding Mati Alaver comes from people who were connected to the Schmidt case or at least belonged in the inner circle, the name "General" I might have heard from other journalists covering the case," Seppelt said.

Operation Aderlass emerged last year with a police raid at the Nordic Ski World Championships in Seefeld. The operation was launched after Johannes Dürr made revelations to Seppelt about blood doping in an ARD documentary, which sparked the raid at the World Championships in February and a separate raid in Erfurt in Germany.

Based on the findings, criminal investigations were launched in Germany, Austria and Estonia. Three of the skiers involved were Estonians from the Team Haanja team, which was created in 2015 by Alaver.

In the course of the investigation, Alaver admitted that he had set up a network of contacts, in which some of the wards were contacted by Mark Schmidt. The investigation revealed that Alaver organized the time and place of the blood doping procedures of some Estonian athletes and asked Schmidt to supply the athletes with growth hormone as well. 

According to the FIS, Alaver advised athletes to drink plenty of salt water and use albumin to cover up the use of illicit substances.

Mati Alaver was given a one-year suspended prison sentence and 18 months probation by the Harju County Court in Tallinn in November.


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Editor: Anders Nõmm

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