Biathlon union official faces doping allegations

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SALZBURG, Austria (AP) — A vice president of biathlon's governing body has provisionally stepped down amid allegations he helped his son obtain doping substances from banned doctor Michele Ferrari.

"I will temporarily suspend all my current roles within the IBU," Gottlieb Taschler of Italy said in a statement released by the International Biathlon Union on Saturday. "This is my personal decision; effective immediately and to remain in effect until these serious accusations are proven invalid."

Italian media reported Wednesday that prosecutors are investigating Taschler for allegedly connecting his son Daniel, who made his debut on the biathlon World Cup in 2011, with Ferrari in an apparent attempt to obtain the banned blood booster EPO.

The reports quoted transcripts of phone calls dating from 2010 between Daniel Taschler and Ferrari, an Italian physician who was banned for life in 2012 for numerous breaches of anti-doping rules.

Gottlieb Taschler said he has been "shocked by the recent media reports" and was denying any wrongdoing, calling the accusations "simply not true."

"I will offer my full assistance in clearing up these massive accusations which put both me and my son's integrity at risk," Taschler said. "To start with, I will ask officially for insight into the report mentioned by the media. I will then fully cooperate with the Italian authorities, FISI, and other relevant bodies to help clarify the situation."

The IBU said it "takes notice of this decision by Gottlieb Taschler," a day after it started an own investigation into the matter.

"The fight against doping and the protection of clean athletes is a top priority for the IBU," the union said in a statement. "IBU is aware of the latest media reports regarding IBU Vice-President Gottlieb Taschler and his son. In the light of these reports, we will gather further facts to fully clarify the situation. At this stage we are not able to comment further."

The 53-year-old Taschler is a former biathlete who won bronze with the Italian relay team at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

Taschler is father-in-law to Austrian cross-country skier Johannes Duerr, who is serving a two-year ban after he was kicked out of the Sochi Olympics for using EPO.

"I can't say anything about the allegations," Duerr, who is married to Taschler's daughter Mirjam, told the Austria Press Agency. "They are about a time where I hadn't met my wife and her family yet."

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