German prosecutor: Alaver key in arranging ski doping, paid for work

Mati Alaver at his hearing at Harju County Court last November.
Mati Alaver at his hearing at Harju County Court last November. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Former national ski coach Mati Alaver, who is now known to have been at the center of an international sports blood doping ring and which included illicit practises carried out with skiers in his charge, fully organized rendezvous with key figures, and was not merely a mediator in providing phone numbers etc. He was also remunerated for his work.

As reported by ERR News, following a legal battle the public broadcaster was able to obtain around 50 percent of the court documents from Alaver's November 2019 hearing at Harju County Court, which included material from the public prosecutor's office in Munich, Germany demonstrating Alaver's activities. 

Alaver, his supplier, German doctor Mark Schmidt, former star skier Andrus Veerpalu, three active Estonian cross-country skiers and several from other countries were detained at the 2019 world ski championships in Seefeld, Austria, following a police swoop. 

While Alaver's case was wrapped up in Austria, he was of interest to prosecutors there and in Germany, where Mark Schmidt's trial is currently ongoing. 

Alaver was convicted in a closed-doors proceeding at Harju County Court in Tallinn last November, and was sentenced to a one-year suspended prison sentence, with an eighteen-month probation period. He did not plead guilty at that hearing, and had remained silent on the matter since March last year, when he told ERR that he had given Schmidt's contacts to Karel Tammjärv, one of the Estonian skiers, but not more than that. 

However, the material from the Munich Public Prosecutor's office reveals that Alaver had been complicit in setting up illegal meetings with Schmidt and for blood doping and related purposes, and was paid for it. 

"According to the results of the investigation, Mati Alaver, an Estonian citizen, was the link between the cross-country skiers and the German doctor. Alaver mediated contact with the German doctor, organized these illegal meetings and was paid for them accordingly," the Munich prosecutor's office said. 

In addition, this document reveals that Estonian skiers used blood doping procedures – which essentially involves having a quantity of blood removed ahead of a competition, only to have it restored just before a race, boosting performance (the "excess" blood also has to be removed post-race in an effort to dodge tests) – at least 35 times.

ERR's sports portal published the full facts obtained from the Munich prosecutor's office, via Harju County Court, which are summarized as follows:

  •  From late 2011 latest, Mark Scmhidt was involved in blood doping activities, primarily in Europe and primarily in cycling and winter sports, which was a substantial source of income for him.
  • He also provided growth hormones and other illicit, performance-enhancing substances, or prescribed them without authorization to do so.
  • From some time in 2014 he retained a narrow circle of confidants to carry out the delicate tasks of drawing athletes' blood, transporting and storing it, looking after paraphernalia involved in blood doping and overseeing preparations for official tests by sports bodies.
  • These confidantes included one Dirk Q., to at least August 2018, Diana S. from December 2017 to a time not specified, and Sven M. from the end of 2018/beginning of 2019. Schmidt's father, Ansgard, was involved in the activities and was instrumental in furnishing the prosecutor's office with approximate time-frames, but was unable to pinpoint precise times in all cases.
  • All of the above individuals were aware of what they were doing and of each others' activities, with tasks often shared, and they were remunerated around €200 per day for this.
  • From a time no later than the beginning of 2017, three Estonian cross-country skiers, Karel Tammjärv, Algo Kärp and Andreas Veerpalu were among the clients of the suspect Schmidt and his associates.
  • These three skiers engaged in blood doping methods prohibited under German law at least 35 times between then and being apprehended at the world championships in Seefeld, Austria, on February 27.
  • Mati Alaver was the facilitator between the three skiers and the German doctor and his associates, organized appointments and mediated contact, and was paid to do so.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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