Austrian ski federation head cleared in scandal

An Italian court cleared Austrian ski federation president Peter Schroecksnadel and biathlon chief Markus Gandler of any involvement in the blood-doping scandal at the 2006 Turin Games.

Following the court proceedings Friday in Susa, near Turin, the Austrian federation said in a statement that the verdict proves that "many accusations against Austria ski federation representatives were false."

Schroecksnadel said the federation "acted correctly from the beginning and this has now been confirmed by the court."

Former cross-country coach Walter Mayer also was cleared, along with former team doctor Peter Baumgartl and cross-country athletes Martin Tauber and Jurgen Pinter.

However, three others were handed suspended sentences and fines: 20 months and $32,000 for former cross-country coach Emil Hoch, 18 months and $28,000 for biathlete and 2002 bronze medalist Wolfgang Perner and 16 months and $25,000 for biathlete and former world champion Wolfgang Rottmann.

Perner and Rottmann said they will appeal the verdict.

At the 2006 Olympic, Italian police raided the Austrian cross-country and biathlon team lodgings, seizing a large amount of doping products and equipment.

The raid followed a tip that Walter Mayer, a former team coach who had been banned from the Turin Games by the International Olympic Committee for a blood-doping scandal in 2002, was in the area.

An investigation into the matter led the IOC to impose lifetime bans on four athletes. One of the penalties was later reduced to a four-year ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The IOC also fined the Austrian Olympic Committee $1 million for failing to prevent the blood-doping violations.