The former head of the International Union of Biathletes, Anders Besseberg, appeared before a court in Norway on charges of corruption. The 77-year-old official is accused of receiving bribes in the period from 2009 to 2018, mainly from Russia, including in the form of expensive watches and sex services. He faces up to 10 years in prison.
The trial of Besseberg began on January 10 and will last until mid-February, reports Aftenposten. The investigation was conducted by law enforcement agencies of Norway, Austria, Liechtenstein and the Czech Republic. In particular, the prosecution believes that the Norwegian could hide numerous cases of doping of Russian athletes.
In the material of the Norwegian state broadcasting company NRK, there are numerous evidences that alleged sex workers were seen around a sports official in Russia (translated into Russian by Sports.ru). Russian officials and businessmen took Besseberg hunting, including shooting deer from a helicopter. 13 expensive watches were confiscated from him.
One of the key prosecution witnesses will be the Russian Grigory Rodchenkov, who became an informant for the world anti-doping agency WADA. He said that in 2013 he overheard a conversation between two Russian sports officials who argued about how much money they gave Besseberg — 300 or 400 thousand dollars. Besseberg denies this. In the course of the subsequent Rodchenkov doping scandal surrounding the Olympics in Sochi, the Norwegian stated that the Russian should be punished for doping as one of the key participants in the criminal scheme.
Besseberg himself insists on his innocence. He led the international federation for 25 years. During this time, biathlon became one of the most popular winter sports. A number of sports officials spoke in his support. The former head of the Union of Biathletes of Russia, Viktor Maguirov, told the Norwegian mass media that the official did not show a special attitude towards Russia.
During ongoing interrogations, Besseberg says that he took the gifts for granted, according to NRK’s online broadcast. The prosecution does not need to prove receipt of money and services for any specific actions. According to Norwegian laws, for an indictment in court it is enough to prove that the benefits received by a sports official were related to his position, and he was aware of it.