CAS bans Pinter four years for role in Turin doping scandal

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- The Court of Arbitration of Sport banned Austrian cross-country skier Juergen Pinter from the sport for four years on Friday for his part in a doping scandal at the Turin Olympics.

The court upheld an appeal filed by the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency against a decision by skiing's governing body to clear Pinter of allegations resulting from a police search at the 2006 Games.

A CAS panel of three lawyers found the skier "guilty of complicity in an anti-doping rule violation by other athletes."

The ban was backdated to the time of the Games and will run through the end of February 2010.

The IOC had already banned the 29-year-old Pinter and five other Austrian athletes for life from the Olympics. He challenged that decision at CAS, world sport's highest appeal body, but lost the case.

Italian police raided the Austrian cross-country and biathlon team lodgings at Pragelato near Turin on Feb. 18, 2006, seizing a large amount of doping products including syringes, needles and blood bags.

Police also found devices for measuring hemoglobin levels and determining blood groups, plus the banned substances hCG and albumin.

The raid followed a tip that former team coach Walter Mayer, who had been implicated in doping at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, was nearby. He fled Italy and crashed his car into a police roadblock across the Austrian border.

Olympic drug-testers conducted surprise doping checks on 10 Austrian athletes. The tests came back negative, but the IOC continued its investigation based on the police findings.

The Austrian Olympic Committee imposed lifetime Olympic bans on 14 team officials linked to the scandal.

In May last year, the IOC fined the Austrian committee $1 million for failing to prevent the blood-doping violations.