HELSINGIN SANOMAT international

Sport - Friday 21.11.2003

Former skiing head coach to be charged with smuggling and fraud

 Top cross-country skiers avoid charges

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A State Prosecutor has decided to bring charges of fraud and smuggling against Kari-Pekka Kyrö, who was the head coach of the Finnish cross-country skiing team when the doping scandal of the 2001 Lahti Nordic World Ski Championships broke out.
   
The police suspect Kyrö smuggled EPO and growth hormones into Finland during the years 1999 and 2000. The substances were apparently acquired in Spain through a Dutch criminal league.
   
The police were able to track the acquisitions by investigating Kyrö's telephone records, bank account activity, and trips abroad. The official purpose of Kyrö's trips was that he attended various seminars.
   
The police also interviewed members of the hormone league, as well as the owner of a Dutch gym. The gym owner openly told the police of Kyrö's hormone purchases from him, commenting that the head coach needed the substances "for the athletes on his team".

The fraud charge stems from the trial
against Finnish News Agency STT. Kyrö may have lied in his statements that were given at the time of the trial.
   
In court, Kyrö denied being aware of any doping in Finnish cross-country skiing. He sought compensation of 50,000 euros from STT along with many other top names at the Finnish Ski Association.
   
STT was charged with libel after running a story claiming that top Finnish skier Jari Räsänen had used banned substances, and that FSA management was aware of the doping.

During the investigation
into Kyrö's possible smuggling activities, the police also questioned the six skiers who tested positive at the Lahti games, two other former national team coaches, and Kyrö's brother. All avoided charges.
   
The skiers denied that Kyrö gave them any hormone products. Prosecutors found no evidence that they would have helped finance Kyrö's purchases. However, the State Prosecutor remarked that the skiers tested positive for a plasma volume expander, which can be used to cover signs of EPO use.
   
Kari-Pekka Kyrö declined to comment to Helsingin Sanomat on the charges on Thursday.

Previously in HS International Edition:
 Skiers to be fined in future for doping offences (22.9.2003)
 Blood manipulation was common during Lahti skiing championships (9.5.2003)
 Police: Former skiing head coach smuggled doping substances into Finland (25.3.2002)
 Appeals Court reduces sentences in STT doping libel case (31.10.2000)


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