Andrus Veerpalu's ski coaching ban expires

Andrus Veerpalu.
Andrus Veerpalu. Source: Andres Putting/Delfi

Former ski star Andrus Veerpalu's competitive ban has expired, meaning the two-time olympic gold medalist is free to coach or compete again. Veerpalu's two-year ban followed a doping scandal which he was allegedly involved in.

While a hearing on the matter was held last month in Innsbruck, Austria, neither Veerpalu nor co-defendant Alexei Poltoranin, who Veerpalu coaches, appeared in court, though lawyers representing the pair were present.

Veerpalu's ban commenced on September 28 2019 and ended Monday, September 27 2021.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) imposed the ban after Veerpalu was found guilty of violating anti-doping rules by helping to mediate in the use of prohibited substances and practices, and attempting to conceal their use.

The scandal broke at the World Championships in Seefeld, Austria in February 2019 and involved several Estonian skiers, former national coach Mati Alaver and so-called "doping doctor" Mark Schmidt, a German national who was imprisoned for five years early on in 2021 after being found guilty on multiple counts of sports doping.

Alaver was stripped of his state honors shortly after the scandal came to light and was later given a suspended prison sentence.

Veerpalu was stripped of his state decorations in April this year.

Veerpalu appealed the decision at the International Sports Arbitration (CAS), but his appeal was overruled.

The illicit practices Alaver was charged with being involved in included blood doping – removing a quantity of blood from an athlete and keeping it refrigerated, only to reintroduce it shortly before a competition, in order to gain an advantage. The practice is banned.

Veerpalu won olympic gold in the 15km men's classic in Salt Lake City in 2002 and in Turin in 2006, and also won world championship gold twice.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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