ASTANA, Kazakhstan (AP) — The government of Kazakhstan has come to the defense of a skier arrested in the Austrian doping raids, saying he didn't use performance-enhancing drugs even though he visited the doctor implicated in the case.

Alexei Poltoranin, a four-time Olympian and two-time world championship medalist from Kazakhstan, was arrested along with four other competitors at the Nordic skiing world championships last month on suspicion of sports fraud. A German doctor and two Austrian cyclists have also been accused of being involved in the doping ring.

According to the Tengri news website, Culture and Sports Minister Arystanbek Mukhamediuly says "thankfully Poltoranin did not dope, but he went to the doctor in Germany and gave blood."

Mukhamediuly says "we are taking measures to soften the punishment and not leave him on his own."

German and Estonian authorities are also investigating the doping accusations, and two Austrian cyclists have been implicated.

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