In a joint statement, the Kazakhstan Biathlon Federation (KBF) and National Olympic Committee of Kazakhstan (KNOC) have announced that all 10 members of the Kazakhstan national biathlon team that were detained by police in Austria last week at the World Championships in Hochfilzen have returned negative results.

The Austrian Federal Criminal Police Office made a search of the hotel of the Kazakhstan national biathlon team was conducted on February 8, on the eve of the World Championships. Austrian authorities reported 30 officials seized a “significant volume” of items such as drugs, mobile phones and medical equipment. The International Biathlon Union then conducted blood and urine tests on the entire Kazakh team in coordination with the Austrian Anti-Doping Agency (NADA Austria).

The statement further reads that all the athletes were tested in full compliance with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) procedures for all banned substances. The statement also reads this outcome comes as absolutely no surprise to the KBF and KNOC as the protection of clean athletes and the fight against doping, in all forms, remains a top priority for all anti-doping stakeholders in Kazakhstan.

The KBF and KNOC statement also reads that this whilst we completely support the right of the Austrian authorities and the International Biathlon Union (IBU) to rigorously pursue all anti-doping detection procedures has to be conducted based on internationally-recognized standards of fairness and the presumption of innocence granted for all athletes involved. It was also remarked that such procedures are clearly outlined in the WADA Code of Conduct. The statement went on to say that it is therefore with regret that the KBF and KNOC believe such procedures have been ignored on this occasion and that the Kazakhstani athletes involved have had their fundamental rights abused by this detention. The statement also said that Kazakh athletes in particular have complained of continuous interviews until 5 am, personal data exemption, and search and seizure activities during the ongoing training process.

The statement said this excessive and wrongful treatment of the Kazakh biathletes resulted in fatigue and stress that significantly limited their performances in the next day’s mixed relay event. It also reads that we urge the Austrian authorities and the IBU to investigate the whole process and treatment of the Kazakhstani athletes at the earliest opportunity to ensure such an incident is never repeated.

The IBU also released a statement and said the Criminal Intelligence Service Austria conducted the search of the Kazakhstan national biathlon team accommodations based on the investigation on possible anti-doping rules violations. It added the WADA-accredited laboratory in Seibersdorf reported all test results for urine, blood and serum were negative and added the samples were tested for all substances on the WADA prohibited list, including EPO and human growth hormone. It also said the IBU therefore is not considering any disciplinary actions against any athlete at this point in time. The world governing body of biathlon said the National Biathlon Federation of Kazakhstan has been cooperating with the state authorities, the IBU and NADA Austria during the investigation

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