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Austrian skier Baldauf sentenced for fraud after doping

INNSBRUCK, Austria (AP) — Austrian cross-country skier Dominik Baldauf has been handed a five-month suspended prison sentence for serious commercial sports fraud after admitting to doping. Innsbruck Regional Court convicted the 27-year-old Baldauf on Tuesday after he previously admitted blood doping and the use of growth hormones.

Baldauf is one of 23 athletes involved in the blood doping scandal involving German doctor Mark Schmidt and following police raids in Erfurt, Germany, and at the Nordic skiing world championships in Innsbruck and Seefeld, Austria at the end of February last year.

Baldauf admitted having blood drawn for the first time in April 2016, and taking growth hormones from 2017. He said he was introduced to the doping procedures by cross-country teammate Johannes Dürr, whose statements to German broadcaster ARD led to the criminal investigation called Operation Aderlass that lifted the lid on the scandal. Dürr was banned for life by the Austrian Anti-Doping Legal Committee in October.

Baldauf’s defense lawyer, Andreas Mauhart, rejected the charge that his doping harmed sponsors, “because he was supposed to ski cross country and that’s exactly what he did.” Mauhart suggested the Austrian ski federation was aware of the doping.

More athletes are due to have their cases heard at the regional court, including cyclists Georg Preidler and Stefan Denifl. Austrian skier Max Hauke, who was caught with a needle in his arm during one of the raids, already received a five-month suspended sentence from the court in October, when he, Baldauf, Preidler and Denifl were all banned from competing for four years for their alleged involvement in the doping ring.

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