Prosecution: Former Olympic gold Andrus Veerpalu allowed blood doping

Andrus Veerpalu.
Andrus Veerpalu. Source: Siim Semiskar/ERR SPORT

Prosecutors leading the investigation into the doping scandal that erupted at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Seefeld, Austria in the late winter of 2019 have told Postimees they are accusing disgraced two-time Olympic gold medalist Andrus Veerpalu of aiding and abetting in sports fraud.

According to Thomas Willam, spokesman for the Innsbruck-based prosecutor's office, the content of the charge against the older Veerpalu is very simple, daily Postimees reported.

William said: "He allowed, during the Seefeld World Championships, one athlete and a sports doctor to engage in blood doping in his room. Damage in the amount of more than €5,000 was caused through the fraud."

In addition, the Estonian is accused of participation in sports fraud in connection with forbidden substances. Veerpalu, 49, has not given any comments during the one-and-a-half years that has passed since the disclosure. 

According to Postimees, it is quite clear that he aided his son Andreas Veerpalu and was probably linked also to the forbidden substances case of Kazakh skier Alexei Poltaranin, whom he was coaching at the time. 

Andreas Veerpalu has been handed a temporary competition ban, which he has contested in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. He is scheduled to appear before court in Innsbruck on October 8. According to William, it is not yet clear when Andrus Veerpalu has to do the same.

Andreas Veerpalu's doping caused about €12,000 in damages to sponsors

Andreas Veerpalu, 26, has remained unavailable to the media just like his father. Last week it was revealed that criminal charges of sports fraud have been lodged against him in Austria. 

According to the prosecutors in Innsbruck, Andreas Veerpalu is suspected, in addition to blood doping, of using the growth hormones somatropin and gonadorelin and the forbidden substance albumin to hide the use of doping.

The prosecutors argue that Veerpalu began using forbidden means to enhance his performance in the 2016/17 season.

Willaim told Postimees: "He caused about €12,000 in damage to his sponsors. In addition, he is accused of connection with a criminal organization of which he was a member. It included a doping doctor and other people."

The doctor featuring in the case is German Mark Schmidt, whose name first appeared in connection with forbidden substances more than ten years ago when he was working for the cycling teams Gerolsteiner and Milram.

Of Estonian athletes and coaches implicated or charged in the Seefeld scandal, cross-country skiers Andreas Veerpalu and Karel Tammjarv were caught first, while a third skier, Algo Karp, confessed to using blood doping later. In addition, Kazakh skier Alexei Poltoranin, coached by Estonians Mati Alaver and Andrus Veerpalu, was nabbed by the police.

Alaver received a one-year suspended jail sentence from the Harju County Court in Estonia in November 2019. It is still not known whether Alaver will be charged with sports fraud also in Germany, Postimees said, adding that he probably will not. A criminal proceeding concerning Alaver in Austria was closed after the decision by the Estonian court.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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