March 10, 2019 / 10:59 PM / 3 months ago

Nordic skiing: Austrians arrested at world championships admit doping

FILE PHOTO: Cross-Country Skiing – Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – Men's Sprint Classic Qualifications – Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Centre – Pyeongchang, South Korea – February 13, 2018 - Dominik Baldauf of Austria competes. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach -/File Photo

VIENNA (Reuters) - Two Austrian cross-country skiers arrested at the Nordic skiing world championships last month admitted to blood doping on Sunday in a televised interview.

Max Hauke and Dominik Baldauf were the only Austrians among five athletes arrested on Feb. 27 at the 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.

“I would like to apologize to everyone. I know that it was a huge mistake, but I can’t go back and change it,” Hauke told ORF television in a joint interview with Baldauf while their lawyer looked on.

“I just wanted to show what I was capable of ... For me, doping was the way to close the gap (on others) so that I could compete,” Hauke added.

Since Hauke and Baldauf were arrested, other Austrian athletes have been implicated in blood doping. Cyclist Georg Preidler confessed to police earlier this month, and cross-country skier Johannes Duerr was arrested on March 5.

“We both made the wrong decision at some stage and we both realized we wouldn’t achieve our childhood dream (of performing well),” Baldauf said.

Hauke and Baldauf, both 26, told ORF that no one else in the Austrian Skiing Federation knew they were doping. Neither answered directly when asked how many times they had doped or how much they had paid for the transfusions.

Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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