An Austrian police officer has been charged with breaking the country’s secrecy laws after a video emerged online of cross-country skier Max Hauke allegedly caught in the middle of a blood transfusion at the World Nordic Ski Championships in Seefeld.
Hauke, a 26-year-old Austrian, was one of five athletes arrested at the Championships in February as part of a targeted operation against a worldwide drugs network.
In a coordinated operation across Austria and Germany, which was sparked after another Austrian skier Johannes Dürr confessed to doping in Germany, police conducted dawn raids at several locations which led to the arrest of nine people on February 27.
The police released a statement at the time saying one athlete had been caught “in the act”, and a dramatic video emerged shortly afterwards in which Hauke could be seen sat down, allegedly midway through a blood transfusion, as police officers stood around him.
It quickly went viral but according to the Austrian newspaper Tiroler Togeszeitung (TT), the man accused of releasing it has now been arrested himself.
“The police officer from Eastern Austria, who was supporting the operation, is accused of having sent a video on which an athlete can be seen, as he just reinfused blood, in the night of 28.2.2019 to a private WhatsApp group,” a statement from the Innsbruck public prosecutor’s office, published by TT, reads.
“This video is an official secret of which the officer was only aware due to his police activity.
“By passing on to a private WhatsApp group, he violated this official secret.
“From this WhatsApp group the video was then further published.”
According to TT the officer, who has not been named, could face up to three years in prison for the offence.
Since the raids on February 27, more details of the operation and its findings have been released.
As well as Hauke, the other athletes detained in Seefeld have been named as four-time Kazakh Olympian Alexei Poltoranin plus two Estonians, Karel Tammjarv and Andreas Veerpalu.
Andreas is the son of two-time Olympic champion Andrus Veerpalu.
The other Austrian has been named as Dominik Baldauf – both him and Hauke are cadets in the Austrian police.
Meanwhile, in Germany a doctor named as Mark Schmidt, as well as two other people described as assistants, were also arrested.
According to German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, as many as 40 blood bags and other items associated with doping were seized during the raids in Germany.
Additionally, Dürr, whose revelations about doping to German broadcaster ARD sparked the whole operation, has also since been arrested in Innsbruck on doping-related charges.
According to Austrian newspaper Der Standard, the 31-year-old had allegedly failed to cooperate with the investigation.
All of the skiers involved, since released by police, have admitted wrongdoing and have been provisionally suspended by the International Ski Federation.
An investigation was launched as doping in Austria is considered a form of financial crime.