Norway’s Anders Besseberg, former president of the International Biathlon Union (IBU), has been sentenced to over three years in prison after being found guilty of corruption during his time in that office, by a court in Norway.

Besseberg, 78, has been found guilty of protecting Russian athletes and organizations from doping cases during his time at the helm of the IBU – he was the first president of the organization, between 1993 and 2018.

In return for this protection, he was found guilty of accepting bribes such as wristwatches, hunting trips, a leased car, and allegedly a liaison with a prostitute in Moscow. He has been ordered to return worth the equivalent of $120,000.

A ruling has now said that Besseberg “acted in favor of Russia, both in word and deed,” with the allegations having suggested that during the Russian doping scandals of 2015, Besseberg acted in that country’s favor, in exchange for the benefits listed above.

Besseberg has now said he is “disappointed and surprised” by the ruling, and plans to appeal.

He was indicted last year by Norwegian prosecutors on charges of aggravated corruption relating to bribes accepted from 2009 onwards, and has now been found guilty on nine out of 10 charges.

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The prosecution initially called for a prison sentence of three years and six months.

A report published three years ago by the IBU found evidence of “systematic corrupt and unethical conduct at the very top” of the biathlon body.

The judge, Vidar Toftay-Lohne, said in his case summary: “The defendant clearly lacks understanding of the position he held and self-awareness, as the court sees it.”

Besseberg resigned as IBU head in April 2018, after a police raid on the federation's headquarters in Salzburg, Austria, following a multi-national investigation.

The investigation involved cooperation with Austrian, Czech, Liechtenstein, and Canadian authorities.

Sweden's Olle Dahlin is currently president of the IBU, with his current second term running through 2026.

In a statement following the guilty verdict, the World Anti-Doping Agency said: “It shows once again that WADA will always act to do what is right for clean sport. The sentence should serve as a warning to other administrators who threaten the integrity of sport.”