March 20, 2019 / 1:20 PM / in a month

At least 21 athletes suspected of blood doping - German prosecutor

BERLIN (Reuters) - At least 21 athletes from eight nations across five sports are suspected of blood-doping linked to a German doctor who was arrested as part of an Austria-Germany doping raid last month, Munich’s state prosecutor Kai Graeber said on Wednesday.

Five athletes, including two Austrians, were initially arrested on Feb. 27 at the Nordic skiing world championships in the Austrian resort of Seefeld.

The arrests were part of a joint operation with German police targeting a suspected international blood-doping ring believed to have been run out of Germany.

A doctor in the German city of Erfurt was also arrested along with a total of five other suspected accomplices.

Graeber said the doping of the 21 athletes from five sports — three winter and two summer — took place from 2011.

“The timeframe (of doping) is from the end of 2011 to 2019 in Seefeld,” he told a news conference.

“There are three-figure cases of blood being taken out and then being reintroduced worldwide. In Germany, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Croatia, Slovenia and Hawaii.”

No details on the names of the athletes or their specific sports were made available. The investigation is ongoing.

Since the arrests other Austrian athletes have been implicated in blood doping. Earlier this month cyclist Georg Preidler told police he had attempted doping.

Cross-country skier Johannes Duerr, whose interview with Germany’s ARD television in which he admitted doping triggered the investigation and subsequent raids, was arrested on March 5.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris

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