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German doctor charged with causing bodily harm by doping

December 19, 2019 GMT

MUNICH (AP) — A German doctor has been charged with causing serious bodily harm as part of a group which allegedly provided doping services for elite athletes in multiple sports.

Prosecutors in the city of Munich said Thursday the doctor, whose name was protected by German privacy regulations, was charged along with four “helpers.” They are accused of being involved in doping in sports including cycling and various winter events.

Prosecutors said blood transfusions and growth hormone were administered as part of “sophisticated treatment plans” designed to help athletes perform better and minimize the risk of failing a drug test.

The charge of causing serious bodily harm relates to an incident in 2017 when a female athlete allegedly suffered side effects from being administered red blood cells. The doctor is accused of falsely telling her that they were safe and sterile.

The case results from raids in February at the world cross-country ski championships in Austria, where five athletes were arrested, and in the doctor’s home city of Erfurt in Germany. The case has involved law enforcement and anti-doping bodies in countries across Europe and as far afield as the United States.

Former skier Max Hauke was sentenced to five months probation for sports fraud in Austria in October, and veteran ski coach Mati Alaver was given a one-year suspended sentence in Estonia last month after accusations he persuaded athletes to dope.

German prosecutors said they identified 23 athletes from eight countries who had used blood doping, but their jurisdiction only covered athletes in Germany who had undergone the procedure since December 2015, when there was a change in the law. The doctor had allegedly been providing blood treatments for athletes since 2011.

Athletes handed doping bans include the Italian sprint cyclist Alessandro Petacchi, who won the points classification at all three Grand Tours, and both of the cyclists on Austria’s team for the men’s road race at the 2016 Olympics.

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