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Biathlon champ Loginov searched in doping raid in Italy

ANTERSELVA, Italy (AP) — Italian police carried out a dawn anti-doping raid on the Russia team's hotel at the biathlon world championships on Saturday. Police searched the rooms of recently crowned sprint champion Alexander Loginov and his coach Alexander Kasperovich, confiscating their phones and laptops among other personal items.

Both searches were related to possible doping charges, Vladimir Drachyov, head of the Russian Biathlon Union, told state-run RIA Novosti news agency. Loginov, who was suspended for two years from November 2016 for using the banned blood booster EPO, was searched on suspicion of doping again, Drachyov said, and Kasperovich was targeted because he used someone else’s accreditation.

“Maybe (they think that) Kasperovich used someone else’s accreditation to bring banned substances to the world championships,” Drachyov was quoted as saying. Both searches were prompted by complaints from the International Biathlon Union, he said.

“The IBU and the Biathlon Integrity Unit are aware of the actions taken by the Italian authorities (and the initial response by the Russian team),” the IBU said in a statement. “Any police investigation is a matter for that police force/service to comment upon.

“The Biathlon Integrity Unit, which is an independent operational unit within the IBU responsible for all integrity matters, will provide full cooperation and assistance to the Italian authorities, and will take any further action required to protect the integrity of the sport. No further comment will be made while the investigation remains live.”

Loginov, who won the 10-kilometer sprint last week, told Russia’s Match TV channel the search took place at 6 a.m. local time on Saturday. Police took his phone, his laptop and some personal items, but didn’t tell him the reason for the search.

“It frustrates me very much. I hope it doesn’t get swept under the rug. I hope for the positive outcome,” Loginov was quoted as saying. Loginov later helped the Russia team to fourth place in the relay race.

Kasperovich borrowed an accreditation card from the Ukrainian delegation, Volodymyr Brynzak, head of the Ukrainian Biathlon Union, told Ukranian sports outlet Tribuna. Kasperovich didn’t have a Russia one, but wanted to be at the race and support Loginov, Brynzak said.

Drachyov, in turn, rejected the idea that either of the two were complicit in doping. “We are sure that we currently are the cleanest team in the world. Because there has been so much attention to the Russian team, only a crazy person would be using (banned substances),” Drachyov told Russia’s online outlet.

The Russian embassy in Italy said it has contacted Italian law enforcement, the Italian prime minister’s office, and the Italian foreign ministry to ask for explanations for these searches. The embassy said it was “in constant contact with representatives of the Russian national team and we are coordinating our actions together.”

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