German biathlete Florian Graf has apologised for his “blackout” moment in which he stuck his highly sensitive small-bore rifle in his face during a World Cup race in Oberhof, Germany at the weekend.
Graf was disqualified following the incident, which was captured on television cameras, in which he paused between shots on the shooting range to blow moisture from the barrel of his weapon.
The International Biathlon Union say they have accepted Graf’s apology for the incident, and will take no further action.
Fans and fellow biathletes reacted with horror, with Great Britain’s six-times Olympian Mike Dixon telling Eurosport: “The bullet’s exit speed is 500 miles per hour, it’s deadly, and you absolutely do not want to be looking down the sharp end of that barrel.”
Former junior world champion Graf said on his website: “I had a drop of water in the front sight. I just reacted wrong and had something like a blackout in my thought process. I make no excuses. Of course I did not want to put myself or others in danger.”
IBU communications director Peer Lange said strict safety measures were in place to ensure such incidents remained at a minimum.
Lange said: “It was a horrible and shocking incident and it was absolutely necessary to disqualify the athlete, but we believe the level of punishment is appropriate.
“We take such violations of safety extremely seriously but we believe the athlete is fully aware of the danger to him and his sport of such actions.”
Biathlon’s last significant safety breach occurred at the 2009 World Championships when Germany’s Andrea Henkel was disqualified after accidentally using live ammunition during a pre-race practice round.