German doctor jailed for almost five years for blood doping

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[January 15, 2021]    BERLIN (Reuters) - A Munich court on Friday sentenced a German sports doctor to four years and 10 months in prison for masterminding an international network that helped athletes with blood doping for years.

A co-defendant waits for the verdict in the trial of German sports doctor Mark S. (not pictured), accused of masterminding an international doping network in cycling and winter sports, at the Regional Court (Landgericht) in Munich, southern Germany, January 15, 2021. Christof Stache/Pool via REUTERS

The defendant, identified in Germany only as Mark S, had admitted at the start of the trial in September to helping with doping but denied doing it for profit.

Four other suspects accused of helping him with the collection and supply of blood were also found guilty.

Mark S was found guilty on two dozen charges in relation to helping at least 23 athletes from eight countries gain an unfair advantage over several years. He had said he never put the athletes' health at risk but did admit to blood doping.

The case is a result of "Operation Bloodletting" under which police raided the Nordic Ski World Championships in Austria in February 2019 and arrested athletes just hours before the start of an event. Mark S. was arrested in Germany.

Prosecutors had said he was behind performance-enhancing blood transfusions mostly for cross-country skiers and cyclists.

They believe he was involved in the practice from at least the end of 2011.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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