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HOKKSUND: Former president of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Anders Besseberg’s lawyers Christian Fredrik Bonnevie Hjort (L) and Mikkel Toft Gimse ( C ) speak with prosecutor Marianne Djupesland on the first day of the trial at the Buskerud district court in Hokksund, Norway where Besseberg is charged with gross corruption on January 9, 2024. – AFP
HOKKSUND: Former president of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Anders Besseberg’s lawyers Christian Fredrik Bonnevie Hjort (L) and Mikkel Toft Gimse ( C ) speak with prosecutor Marianne Djupesland on the first day of the trial at the Buskerud district court in Hokksund, Norway where Besseberg is charged with gross corruption on January 9, 2024. – AFP
Ex-biathlon chief on trial in Norway for corruption

OSLO: Former biathlon head Anders Besseberg went on trial in Norway on Tuesday accused of “aggravated corruption” for allegedly covering up Russian doping cases in exchange for favours including prostitutes and hunting parties. Besseberg, who led the International Biathlon Union (IBU) between 1992 and 2018, is accused of accepting bribes between 2009 and 2018, allegedly including luxury watches and a rental car. The 77-year-old Norwegian denies any wrongdoing.

“Why did the Russians want to butter Besseberg up? Why was (rights holder) Infront interested in paying bribes? We will seek to prove this,” news agency NTB quoted prosecutor Marianne Djupesland as telling the court in Buskerud.

The charges against Besseberg echo the conclusions of a damning report from an independent commission set up by the IBU and published in January 2021. The commission concluded he had protected “Russian interests” for many years with the help of IBU secretary general Nicole Resch of Germany.

Based on testimony from whistleblowers, raids by Austrian and Norwegian police, and a report from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the commission concluded that Besseberg had received at least $200,000 from Russian officials, accepted invitations to all-expenses paid hunting parties in Russia and received the services of prostitutes.

In return, he allegedly concealed several doping cases and lobbied intensely in favour of Russia. Besseberg faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. The trial is scheduled to conclude on February 16. — AFP

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