Duerr avoids criminal charges after Sochi doping scandal

VIENNA (AP) Prosecutors in Austria have dropped a criminal investigation into former cross-country skier Johannes Duerr, who was kicked out of the Sochi Olympics for doping.

State prosecution spokeswoman Nina Bussek said Thursday that Duerr won't be charged as it was his first offense and he didn't provide other athletes with banned substances.

''Important for this decision were (Duerr's) integrity and confession,'' Bussek told the Austria Press Agency, and ''the fact that compensation for damages were paid'' as Duerr reportedly refunded sponsorship money.

Bussek said there was no indication that Duerr helped others dope, which would have been a criminal offense under Austria's anti-fraud laws, with athletes found guilty facing prison terms of up to three years.

Duerr admitted to taking the blood booster EPO after he tested positive in a sample taken in Austria, where he had returned for training during the games in Feb. 2014.

The 28-year-old Duerr was banned for two years by skiing's governing body FIS in June last year, but had already been expelled for life from the Austrian ski federation.

Austria has been increasing its fight against banned substances since its biathlon and cross-country teams were caught up in a blood doping scandal at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

Acting on a tip, Italian police raided the Austrian team lodgings near Turin and seized blood doping equipment and other substances. No Austrians tested positive at those games, but the IOC later banned several for life.

The biathlon and cross-country director of the Austrian ski federation, Markus Gandler, was at the center of investigations but was cleared of wrongdoing by an Italian court in 2012. Gandler was also in charge of the cross-country team at the Sochi Games.

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