Seefeld, February 28: Five cross-country athletes are among nine people to have been arrested in relation to alleged doping, Austrian police have announced.
Authorities from Austria and Germany collaborated on 'Operation Aderlass' and conducted raids centred on the resort of Seefeld, where the Nordic World Ski Championships are being held.
Athletes from Austria, Kazakhstan and Estonia were among those arrested on Wednesday, the police confirmed.
An official statement read: "[An] Erfurt-based criminal group is strongly suspected of having been doping top athletes for years to increase their performance in domestic and international competitions, thereby gaining illegal revenues."
Police said the investigation, which remains ongoing, centred around a sports doctor and claimed to have "succeeded in smashing an international doping network".
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said: "WADA can confirm that it has been in close communication with law enforcement authorities in relation to the raids and arrests that police carried out today in Austria and Germany.
"The raids were part of a wider police operation targeting criminals from a number of European countries, and WADA's Intelligence and Investigations Department has been providing information and other assistance to the authorities in the course of their operation.
"This latest cooperation with Austrian law enforcement follows a WADA investigation into activities of the International Biathlon Union, which last year resulted in the initiation of a criminal investigation by police in Austria and Norway."
The International Ski Federation (FIS) said it is working with authorities to protect the integrity of the sport.
A media release read: "FIS is working closely with the Austrian public authorities in view of today's events and will follow up the cases and take the necessary actions in accordance with the FIS and World Anti-Doping Rules.
"FIS will fulfil its mandate as the governing body to ensure that the integrity of the sport remains intact and to protect all clean athletes."