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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Court Convicts Olympic Champion

Itar-TassTikhonov, center, listening as the judge reads him the guilty verdict in Novosibirsk Regional Court on Thursday.
Four-time Olympic biathlon champion Alexander Tikhonov was convicted Monday of plotting to poison Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleyev, but his three-year prison sentence was commuted as part of a 2005 amnesty.

The Novosibirsk Regional Court convicted Tikhonov, who won team gold for the Soviet Union in four straight Winter Olympics from 1968 to 1980, of hiring two men to poison Tuleyev in early 2000. The two men subsequently told authorities about the plot, prosecutors said.

Tikhonov, 60, was released in the courtroom Monday under a 2005 amnesty in connection with the 60th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, Interfax reported.

He said his first order of business would be to prepare for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Interfax reported.

Tikhonov, who has maintained that he is innocent, is president of the Russian Biathlon Union.

Sochi was also a prominent theme in Tikhonov's final statement to the court Monday, Gazeta.ru reported.

"For us it's not so much an economic plus as it is a moral and psychological factor," Tikhonov said of Sochi's selection to host the games, Gazeta.ru said. "No one knows, and I will tell you: The Koreans spent more than $300 million for their selection campaign."

Sochi beat Pyeongchang, South Korea, by just four votes, 51-47 at the International Olympic Committee's selection in Guatemala earlier this month.

Tikhonov's brother, Viktor, was convicted in 2002 of conspiring in the purported plot and sentenced to four years in prison.

Prosecutors said metals magnate Mikhail Zhivilo ordered the Tikhonov brothers to kill Tuleyev in early 2000 because his factories had been taken over by Tuleyev's administration for alleged financial wrongdoing.

The Tikhonov brothers were arrested in August 2000. Alexander Tikhonov was released a month later for health reasons and went to Austria for treatment. Russian authorities lost track of him after he checked out of a clinic there. In December 2001, Russia asked Interpol to help find him. He returned to Russia last year to face charges.

Viktor Tikhonov was released from prison in August 2004.

Zhivilo left for France before the brothers were detained by the FSB. He was arrested there at Russia's request in 2001, but a French court refused to extradite him and ordered his release. He has reportedly since received political asylum in France.