An investigation into the leadership of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) currently being conducted by the Austrian Federal Criminal Police began following a tip-off by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), who received information from Grigory Rodchenkov, it has been confirmed.
The IBU headquarters in Salzburg was searched by police yesterday in a probe focusing specifically on the body's President Anders Besseberg and secretary general Nicole Resch.
Resch, who has been in her position since 2008, has now "requested a leave of absence from her role(s) within the IBU".
She has been replaced on an acting basis by the organisation's current executive director Martin Kuchenmeiser.
"The IBU Executive Board is taking the matter extremely seriously and continues to be committed to operating under the highest standards of good governance and transparency," a statement today, released following a hastily-arranged extraordinary meeting, added.
Details of the investigation remain shrouded in mystery but WADA have confirmed that the issue is linked to doping.
Jim Walden, the New York City-based lawyer for Rodchenkov, the former director of the WADA-accredited anti-doping laboratory in Moscow and who is now a whistle blower, claimed that information for the raid was carried out after he had shared information.
"Since its formation in 2015, WADA’s Intelligence and Investigations (I&I) Department has been encouraging whistleblowers to come forward with information about doping in sport and then using that intelligence to conduct thorough investigations," a WADA spokesperson told insidethegames today.
"Where appropriate, I&I has shared that information and cooperated with law enforcement agencies around the world.
"Based on its investigation into the activities of the IBU, I&I has been sharing information with officials from Austrian and Norwegian law enforcement, as well as INTERPOL.
"This intelligence led to the police investigation that has now resulted in police raids in Austria and Norway on April 10.
"WADA confirms that the issue is linked to doping but as the police investigation is ongoing, the Agency can make no further comment at this stage."
Norway's National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (Økokrim) are also providing assistance, according to Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
"Austrian authorities suspect Norwegians of economic crime, and questions about investigations must be addressed to Austrian authorities," the organisation told them in a statement.
Besseberg, 72, is one of the longest-serving Presidents of an Olympic International Federation having been first elected in 1992.
The IBU have faced repeated criticisms of their anti-doping policies in recent years and teams from Ukraine, Czech Republic, Canada, United States and Great Britain all boycotted last month's World Cup Finals after the governing body decided to keep it in the Russian resort of Tyumen despite the doping scandal in the country.
Rodchenkov claimed to NRK that the IBU ignored suspicious blood passport results registered by Russian biathletes.
Instead of investigating the cases, he said, they sent information back to Russia and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency.
"Russia received sensitive information from IBU, with a message to take care of it," Rodchenkov reportedly said.
"But for untrue reasons, IBU would not go into depth and investigate Russian practitioners and their abnormal, extremely abnormal, biological passports."
Walden said: "Dr. Rodchenkov has been cooperating with the investigation of the International Biathalon Union, and with other investigations.
"We are hopeful that all doping fraud and corruption in international sports is fully exposed, and we will continue to work diligently to make that a reality."