An independent report commissioned by the International Biathlon Union (IBU) says there is evidence of “systematic corrupt and unethical conduct” by the former leadership of the sport’s governing body in a decade-long cover-up of Russian doping cases.
The report, published on January 28, says that former IBU President Anders Besseberg and ex-Secretary-General Nicole Resch “have cases to answer for breach of the IBU’s rules, based on their apparent protection of Russian interests, particularly in the anti-doping context, without good justification,” between 2008 and 2018.
Norway’s Besseberg and the German Resch stepped down in 2018 after Austrian police raided the IBU’s headquarters in the city of Salzburg amid a criminal investigation into whether the pair had accepted benefits for covering up Russian doping cases. They haven’t been charged with any crime.
The report by the External Review Commission accuses Besseberg, who led the IBU for 25 years, of intensely lobbying for Russia’s interests, saying he “appears…to have had no regard for ethical values and no real interest in protecting the sport from cheating.”
The commission says Besseberg has been taken on hunting and fishing trips for free in Russia and had IBU employees transport his trophies. It also cites evidence from a police investigation that he admitted that he “received the service of a prostitute” while staying in Moscow, which he believed had been paid for by a third party.
The report also takes aim at Resch, who is accused of having failed to request extra testing of Russian athlete Yevgeny Ustyugov at the doping-tainted 2014 Olympics in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi after indications of “highly abnormal values” in his blood.
Ustyugov won an Olympic gold medal but was stripped of the honor last year after a ban over a separate allegation of past doping violations.
The report also says that Resch offered “undercover” help with doping appeals by three Russian athletes, and tried to influence an anti-doping panel considering a case the IBU had brought against another Russian.
“We are shocked by the wrongdoing” described in the report, IBU President Olle Dahlin said in a statement, adding that owing to reforms “we now have the safeguards in place to ensure this kind of wrongdoing does not happen again.”
World Anti-Doping Agency President Witold Banka called the allegations in the report “abhorrent to all who care about sport integrity.”
“However, it is to the credit of the IBU that in the wake of this scandal, it has taken significant steps to enhance the integrity of its anti-doping program,” Banka said in a statement.