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Finnish Ski Association Doping Case Returns To Court

Pre-trial hearings in the Finnish Ski Association’s doping court case began Wednesday in Helsinki District Court. The prosecutor wants suspended jail sentences for the accused.

Pekka Vähäsöyrinki, Antti Leppävuori and Jari Piirainen, formerly in leadership positions at the association, and Jari Räsänen, a former skier, are facing charges of aggravated fraud. The prosecution calls for a suspended sentence of one year and eight months for Räsänen, 8-10 months for Leppävuori and 6-9 months for Piirainen and Vähäsöyrinki.

The prosecutor believes that the accused lied to the court in previous court proceedings, when they said they had no knowledge of doping at the association in a previous prosecution of journalists from the STT news agency.

The prosecution will argue that they knowingly gave false information in the prosecution. The accused all deny the charges.

Charges Stem From 1998 STT story

The charges stem from a story published by STT in 1998. During the Nagano Winter Olympics, the agency reported that doping was common in elite skiing circles, and that many key figures at the Ski Association were aware of it.

Skiing figures then brought defamation proceedings against STT. The STT journalist and his editor received suspended jail sentences, which were reduced to fines on appeal.

In addition to the criminal judgement, the journalist and editor also had to pay compensation. The district court awarded damages to 19 plaintiffs, which was reduced to five on appeal.

Kyrö’s statements re-opened the case

A new twist came in 2008, when the former skiing coach Kari-Pekka Kyrö said that doping was systematic in Finnish skiing, and knowledge of the practice was widespread at the Ski Association.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) opened a new investigation into the STT case, the results of which led to the new proceedings, according to district prosecutor Mikko Jaatinen.

The point of the new proceedings is to determine whether the statements made by skiing figures in the STT proceedings were true or not. The prosecutor has asked for jail sentences in the case.

The case has generated a large amount of material. On paper, it amounts to around 9,000 pages, and there is also video of Kari-Pekka Kyrö’s questioning by police.

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