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Estonian ski coach faces investigation in doping ring

London 2012 Unveil the Anti-Doping Laboratory For The Olympic Games

HARLOW, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: A tray of samples in the anti-doping laboratory which will test athlete’s samples from the London 2012 Games on January 19, 2012 in Harlow, England. The facility, which will be provided by GSK and operated by King’s College London, will test over 6250 samples throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Over 150 anti-doping scientists will work in the laboratory, which measures the size of seven tennis courts, 24 hours a day. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

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TALLINN, Estonia (AP) Prosecutors in Estonia say they have opened criminal proceedings against a veteran ski coach linked to a doping ring.

Mati Alaver, who has coached elite-level cross-country skiers for four decades, is suspected of persuading skiers to use performance-enhancing drugs.

The case comes after Austrian police arrested five skiers, two of them Estonians, at the Nordic skiing world championships. Another Estonian skier, three-time Olympian Algo Karp, told the Ohtuleht newspaper that he also doped.

The case has caused a scandal in Estonia, where cross-country skiers are star athletes responsible for all of the small Baltic nation’s seven Winter Olympic medals.

Alaver was stripped of two state honors by President Kersti Kaljulaid last week after he was first linked to the Austrian arrests.