2002 Olympic cross-country ski champion Hoffmann ends career after being suspended for doping

By Eric Willemsen, AP
Thursday, December 31, 2009

Olympic champion Hoffman retires after suspension

VIENNA — Former Olympic cross-country ski champion Christian Hoffmann retired on Thursday after Austria’s national anti-doping agency provisionally suspended him for his alleged involvement in blood doping.

“I won’t have a chance now to qualify (for the Vancouver Olympics),” Hoffmann told the Austria Press Agency. “And as it would have been my last season anyway, I quit immediately.”

The 35-year-old Hoffmann won gold in the 30-kilometer race at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games and was part of the Austrian relay team that won the world title in 1999. He has won six World Cup titles.

Earlier Thursday, NADA banned Hoffmann from all competitions until a hearing by the agency’s disciplinary committee took place. NADA did not reveal a date for the hearing, but Hoffmann’s attorney Hans-Moritz Pott said it would take place on Jan. 29.

That would have kept Hoffmann from qualifying for the Olympics in Vancouver.

Hoffmann has never tested positive, but prosecutors in Austria have been investigating possible blood doping by him and other athletes since May.

Hoffmann has always denied any wrongdoing.

“I just didn’t get the chance to defend myself and to prove my innocence,” he said. “So, the winter is over. They are dragging it out that long so I don’t have a chance to qualify for the Olympics.”

NADA released a statement on its decision but the chairman of the disciplinary committee, Gernot Schaar, declined to comment.

NADA had officially opened proceedings against Hoffmann earlier this month.

He allegedly colluded with cyclists Bernhard Kohl and Michael Rasmussen and Kohl’s former manager Stefan Matschiner, who was arrested in March and has admitted helping Kohl with blood doping.

Earlier this year, police found a centrifuge for blood enrichment at Matschiner’s house. Kohl accused Hoffmann of sharing in the purchase cost of around $100,500 and allegedly lending the centrifuge to other athletes, a criminal offense under Austria’s anti-doping laws.

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