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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Police raid ‘organized’ doping ring

Norwegian police have mounted what’s being called the country’s largest doping raid ever, arresting more than 10 persons and jailing six after a lengthy investigation. Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that the alleged doping ring appears to be based in Trondheim.

DN published its own investigation into the trafficking and sale of anabolic steroids in Norway  last fall, and police launched a major probe. They believe a secret network centered in Trondheim is behind doping sales and subsequent laundering of the money the sales raise.

Simultaneous arrests
Those involved are tied to the body-building, physical fitness and health foods industries in Norway. Suspects were arrested at a wide range of locations last week, including their homes and businesses, as well as in parking lots and even at a tram stop.

“We have targeted those who we believe have sold illegal doping substances on a product exchange under the code names of Guru and Karma,” police lawyer Per Martin Utkilen of the Sør-Trøndelag police chamber told DN. “There’s reason to believe several people are behind these code names.” The product exchange reportedly has been in the form of a locked website with thousands of members called “Anabolic Forums,” which allegedly has provided a large marketplace for illegal sale and purchase of steroids.

DN reported that among those arrested was one of Norway’s most well-known “fitness gurus” who also is an entrepreneur and editor of a fitness blog that reportedly has 200,000 readers. He has also written columns for some regional newspapers in Norway and worked as a personal coach for top athletes within football, handball, boxing and other martial arts.

Syndicate allegation
Police suspect that he and others arrested last week are part of a syndicate that has supplied Norwegian youth with dangerous dope for many years. Around 60 police officers were involved in the raids that led to 11 arrests as of last Wednesday but were likely to result in more.

Police won’t comment further on the raid while their investigation continues, perhaps for as long as another year. The raids also involved officials from Norway’s customs and tax authorities, with many computers and documents seized from homes, offices, cars and other property.

Both he and another arrested suspect, a gymnasium owner in Trondheim, have publicly denounced doping. His gym in Trondheim is one of Norway’s most acclaimed training studios, and he has been the coach for prize-winning athletes in various sports. He’s also built himself up as a high-profile nutrition expert.

The raid was code-named “Operation Gilde” and was run from Trondheim. Both men arrested were charged under a Norwegian law that targets organized criminal groups. Both men plus an unidentified real estate investor are also charged with money laundering.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The names of arrested suspects have been removed from this article at the request of one of them. While suspects routinely are identified in many countries including the US, Norwegian journalistic practice generally refrains from naming them until convicted. This article, involving high-profile persons within fitness circles, was an exception but we have no objections to meeting the request of one involved, which was first lodged six months after the article was published.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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