Former biathlon boss Anders Besseberg was charged with “aggravated corruption” in Norway on Monday for allegedly covering up Russian doping cases in exchange for favours including prostitutes and hunting parties.
“There is sufficient evidence to prove that he accepted bribes continuously over a ten-year period,” Senior Public Prosecutor Marianne Djupesland said in a statement.
“The seriousness of the matter is emphasised by the breach of trust his actions represent in light of his position as president of the IBU,” the official with the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (Okokrim) added.
According to a statement from Okokrim, Besseberg, who headed the International Biathlon Union (IBU) between 1992 and 2018, accepted “bribes in the form of watches, hunting trips and trophies, prostitutes and a leased car”.
The charges, which relate to matters from 2009 to 2018, echo the conclusions of a damning report from an independent commission set up by the IBU, published in January 2021.
The 77-year-old Norwegian denies any wrongdoing.
“Besseberg asserts that he never allowed himself to be corrupted and that he did not try to influence the anti-doping work of the IBU in favour of anyone,” his lawyer Christian Hjort told Norwegian news agency NTB.
The IBU said in a statement they had taken note of the charges and that they had collaborated with Okokrim “on this complex and long-running case” and would “continue to offer their full and unconditional support in reaching a resolution”.
In 2021, the IBU’s external review commission, set up by the Swede Olle Dahlin who had succeeded Besseberg, concluded that the Norwegian had protected “Russian interests” for many years with the help of the Secretary General Nicole Resch.
Based on testimony from whistleblowers, raids by Austrian and Norwegian police, and a report from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the commission concluded that Besseberg had received at least $200,000 (164,900 euros) from Russian officials, accepting invitations to hunting parties in Russia and having receiving the services of prostitutes.
In return, he allegedly concealed several doping cases and lobbied intensely in favour of Russia.
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