March 24, 2016

VIENNA (AP) Austrian anti-doping authorities have banned cross-country skier Harald Wurm for four years for blood doping.

The Austrian Anti-Doping Legal Committee said Thursday it suspended the two-time Olympian for taking the banned substance cobalt and using several prohibited methods for blood enrichment which boosts endurance.

The committee said Wurm has not appealed the decision. The ban dates back to the start of his provisional suspension three months ago and ends Dec. 12, 2019.

The 31-year-old Wurm had been excluded from all team training and competitions by the Austrian ski federation since November, three months after state prosecutors started an investigation into his alleged doping infringements and searched his premises.

The federation said it had access to police files and expected that Wurm had a case to answer, provisionally banning him just over a week before the World Cup season started.

Two years ago, Wurm's teammate, Johannes Duerr, was banned for life by the federation after being kicked out of the 2014 Sochi Games for using EPO.

The head coach of the cross-country team, Gerald Heigl, temporarily stepped down after the federation excluded Wurm. Heigl denied any involvement and returned to his job weeks later.

Prosecutors have meanwhile dropped criminal charges against Wurm after the athlete confessed to doping and settled an agreement with a regional court last month. Wurm accepted a court's proposal to pay 2,000 euros ($2,220) and have his case closed in return.

Wurm admitted to using cobalt but said he never helped other athletes dope which is a criminal offence under Austrian law.

Wurm won the under-23 world title in 2006 and has four top-10 World Cup finishes. He competed in the sprint events at the 2006 and 2014 Olympics.

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