Austrian speed star Hannes Reichelt has been “cleared of all suspicions” in relation to his alleged involvement in a multi-national doping scheme, according to Austrian media.
Late last week, the Austrian Public Prosecutor’s office in Innsbruck involved with the investigation, dubbed “Operation Aderlass,” announced that the inquiry into Reichelt had officially ended and declared him “not worthy of a criminal charge.”
“The past weeks and months have been anything but easy,” Reichelt wrote in an Instagram post following the announcement. “Shortly after the greatest happiness of my life, the birth of our son, the worst time of my career followed.”
Operation Aderlass began in February at the 2019 Nordic World Championships in Seefeld, Austria, with the arrests of nine individuals in Austria and Germany and expanded to involve 21 athletes across eight different sports, including Reichelt. Reichelt was initially implicated in the investigation due to his relationship with former Austrian cross-country coach Gerald Heigl, who was a central figure in the doping ring and is a childhood friend of Reichelt’s. Heigl had also written off-season training plans for the 39-year-old speed skier.
Reichelt was questioned by authorities in May and willfully submitted cell phones and other communication data to investigators. It was announced in July that there were “no new suspicions” regarding Reichelt’s alleged role in the scandal after an initial analysis of his communications but investigators were not willing to declare him innocent until the investigation had come to a close.
Last week’s declaration of innocence came as a relief to the former World Champion, who has vehemently denied any wrongdoing since his involvement in the investigation broke in the spring.
“The accusations are inexplicable to me, until today,” he continued. “My principle has always been: FAIR PLAY in sports as well in everyday life! Thankfully, justice has triumphed and I can finally dedicate myself to my sport and of course to my family.”
Reichelt has continued to train with his Austrian teammates over the summer and plans to begin his 2019-20 season in Lake Louise next month.