German doping doctor offered services at discount to Estonian skiers ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

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Mark Schmidt (in dark glasses) being arrested last December. Source: Marcus Scheidel/Mas Bildagentur

Estonian clients of a notorious German "doping doctor" got particularly competitive prices, court documents from the doctor's trial in Germany reveal, BNS reports.

Mark Schmidt, the German doctor at the center of a doping ring scandal which hit the Estonian national team at last year's world championships in Seefeld, Austria, was arrested last year in a swoop on both Seefeld and Erfurt, Germany, where Schmidt's clinic was located.

Two Estonian cross-country skiers, Andreas Veerpalu and Karel Tammjärv, were also apprehended in Seefeld while a third, Algo Kärp, later admitted to engaging in the practice – which involves extracting a quantity of blood from an athlete ahead of a competition and keeping it in cold, sanitary conditions before re-introducing it to the bloodstream just before a race. The practice is illegal.

The ski team's coach, Mati Alaver, had acted as go-between in the dealings between Schmidt and his skiers. Over 20 athletes, including the Estonians, had availed themselves of Schmidt's services, BNS reports.

Skiers, coaches received four-year international bans

Andreas Veerpalu, Karel Tammjärv, Algo Kärp, along with Mati Alaver and former olympic and world championship gold medalist, and now coach, Andrus Veerpalu, were all banned for four years from competition by the International Ski Federation (FIS).

Alaver was also sentenced to a one-year suspended prison sentence, with an eighteen-month probation period, in November 2019, having been stripped of his state honors in March of that year.

The "Alaver effect" has also spread to those who have worked with him subsequently, albeit illegally, in ski competitions. Earlier this month, the Estonian Anti-Doping Foundation (SA Eesti Antidoping)/Anti-Doping and Sports Ethics Foundation (Eesti Antidopingu ja Spordieetika Sihtasutus) hit another ski coach, Aivar Rehemaa, with a temporary ban after a ski team he was leading in a training camp and competition in Finland was found to have been working with Mati Alaver, who as noted is banned from coaching until 2023.

Schmidt's usual rate of €5,000 per season reduced to 77 percent of that rate for Estonian skiers

While court evidence revealed Schmidt had charged €11,500 for his services throughout a season, this was for all three skiers, Schmidt said. Schmidt also said the standard price was €5,000 per athlete, per season.

Schmidt said that he had had no idea that what he was doing might result in a prison sentence if caught, that he was attempting to "protect" sportspeople, and that the skiers had approached him first.

The Munich-based chief prosecutor said that Schmidt had been active in the doping scene since 2011. Schmidt told the court his activities, which also allegedly involved providing banned growth hormones, a year after that.

Schmidt is charged on almost 150 counts of doping-related activities, pleading guilty on all bar 12 of these, BNS reports.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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