Early on Saturday morning, Italian police showed up at the South Tyrol hotel where the Russian biathlon team is staying during the Rasen-Antholz leg of the 2020 IBU World Championships. They came to execute a search warrant for Russian biathlete Alexander Loginov and coach Alexander Kasperovich amid doping suspicions.
Loginov’s roommate Evgeny Garanichev described the hectic morning raid, which came just hours before they were both scheduled to run in a 4 x 7.5km relay competition. The Russian team strongly suspect that this was no mere coincidence.
“The Bolzano police said they received a request from the IBU [International Biathlon Union] on the 19th, when we had no events. Apparently they had to get to us walking through the woods before they came to us at 5:50 in the morning on the relay day,” he said.
The intrusion was a chaotic event for the Russian team, according to Garanichev, and they didn’t have a lawyer they could call to monitor the search at such an early hour. The Italian officers would not even identify themselves. Loginov was particularly annoyed by the seizure of his phone, which holds all of his personal contacts and team information.
Loginov asked to borrow his phone for a moment to call his wife and parents and personally reassure them, but the police wouldn’t allow it. In the end, they at least agreed to let him copy the contact information, but were very suspicious about each entry the biathlete was interested in, Garanichev said.
The search definitely messed with the entire team’s sleep.
“They said they needed about 20 minutes, but [they] actually took over 90 and left at about 7:40am. We certainly couldn’t sleep after that,” Garanichev said.
He added that he was amused by one detail amid the debacle.
“Almost the first thing they did was take our rifles and put them away by the door. I really don’t know what they were concerned about,” he joked.
Garanichev said the situation reminded him of the 2018 doping probe involving the Russian team conducted by the Austrian police. That episode came during the championship in in Hochfilzen, included a search conducted on the day of a race, and ended with all charges against the Russians dropped.
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