We gaze up at the balconies surrounding the apartment complex Parnamirim, close to the airport in Natal. And we see a sweaty man standing with no shirt on, sweeping his patio. We shout out his name and a few minutes later Gerson is standing with us down on the street below, telling us all about his favourite neighbour - the man we are looking for.
- Is Johann Mühlegg famous in Europe? Haha! You have come all the way from Europe to meet him, you say? Very strange. I didn´t even know he could ski, Gerson says and laughs.
- Shall i give him a call and ask him to come outside?
Gerson starts dialling on the door phone and a short while later the door opens. A tanned Mühlegg, who looks like he has gained a few pounds, pokes out his head. He is wearing a light blue sweatshirt with his companies logo, Jericons Construções, branded on the front and he has a surprised look on his face when he sees us. We are just waiting for him to slam the door in our faces. Instead he laughs and says:
- Come inside!
Disappeared in 2006
Four years after the doping scandal that rocked the Olympic games 2002, Johann Mühlegg decides to disappear. Since then no one has found him.
But now Mühlegg has finally revealed his hiding place after getting into a legal dispute. The dispute concerns a flat in the centre of Natal, only five minutes away from the World cup stadium Arena das Dunas. The Castro family have lived there since 1997, but after failing to pay taxes, their home was taken by the state. It was then put on the market and Mühlegg decided to buy it. The price tag was 150 000 reals (about 70 000 US dollars) - a real bargain. But the Castro family are now in a dispute about the circumstances surrounding the situation. And Johan Mühlegg refuses to give up his new flat.
- The flat is all the family has got, but it looks like we are going to have to move out. It's so sad, the son in the family, Jonathan Castro, says.
- My mum has taken it the worst. She is very depressed because of the whole situation. We all feel for her.
"What are you doing here?"
Back to the meeting with Johann Mühlegg again.
The surprised half German, half Spanish skier has just invited us into his home, but we only take a few steps past the threshold before he turns to us.
He laughs nervously.
- What are you doing here?, he asks.
We explain that we just wonder what he is up to nowadays.
- Nothing. '´m still alive.
But what are you doing in Brazil?
- Nothing. I just live here, he answers and laughs nervously again.
You don't want to tell us anything about your life here?
- No. Nothing.
But you build houses?
"I am in very bad shape"
It's quite a bizarre situation. We have found the man that has been disappeared for the past 8 years, he lets us into his home. But he won´t answer any questions.
We decide to try a few questions about skiing to lighten the mood.
According to sources to SPORT-Expressen, Mühlegg still competes when he is back home in Germany. He has participated in a couple of competitions in the area around Grainau during the past years using a fake name.
We ask him if he is in good shape.
- No, I am in very bad shape, he answers and squirms.
- I am very surprised that you are here. But ok, I don´t want to talk about the past, I have put that behind me.
So you have no plans to return to skiing, not even as a coach?
- No. I have no connection what so ever with the sport anymore. I have left that world behind me.
Are you happy with your new life?
- I'm not going to answer that.
But are you happy or are you sad?
- No. Haha.
- More happy than sad, he replies and fires a question back:
- I am sorry, what newspaper are you from?
Expressen, on of the larger newspapers in Sweden.
- I've never heard of it.
- You know, Brazil is Brazil and Europe is Europe. Ok?