How Grooming Biathlon’s Leader Paid Off for Russia

How Grooming Biathlon’s Leader Paid Off for Russia


Though he did not cooperate with biathlon’s investigation, Besseberg admitted to the police that he had been provided a prostitute in Moscow on a single occasion between 2010 and 2014, but denied specific knowledge of who had sent the woman, saying only that it was “someone, probably from the Organizing Committee,” the report said.

The investigators said they had evidence that the incident was not the only such arrangement made, and Besseberg confirmed to the police that he had sexual encounters with other women at various biathlon events. But the report connected Besseberg’s acceptance of Russian gifts and favors with his actions and public statements on Russia’s behalf, and suggested that “justifies an inference that he did so in exchange for illicit reward, and/or because he was compromised.”

“In the commission’s view,” the report concluded, “Mr. Besseberg’s support for Russian interests went well beyond that general concern, and indeed well beyond all rational bounds.”

The report cited Besseberg’s repeated efforts to publicly downplay and ridicule the evidence provided to investigators by one of the masterminds of Russia’s doping program, Grigory Rodchenkov, and to belittle and dismiss the finding of a World Anti-Doping Agency investigation that later led to Russia’s ban from global sports.

Yet even after the widespread doping conspiracy was revealed and then substantiated by investigators, Besseberg pushed his executive body to ignore calls by antidoping organizations for sports federations to re-examine their doping measures, and to stop awarding events to Russia. In 2016, for example, Besseberg told biathlon’s leaders that they could, and should, grant the 2021 world championships to Tyumen, Russia. One informant, according to the report, said Besseberg stood up ahead of the vote and instructed delegates in no uncertain terms to “vote for Russia.”

Later, when Russia’s participation at the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea came under fire, Besseberg went around the biathlon union’s executive board to lobby on behalf of Russian biathletes, according to the report, arguing that Russia’s biathlon federation and its athletes were blameless in the doping scandal and should be allowed to participate at the Games.



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