Doping in XC skiing

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Apr 22, 2012
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Libertine Seguros said:
I still don't see it, I'm afraid. She has quite powerful legs, I guess, but her overall figure is just small and athletic to my eyes :s
Girl who is more one head smaller than man yet she has thicker legs. That tells me she can't be slender or something. Don't you agree? On the other that doesn't mean she can't look athletic. Athletes even look like this http://www.kameronhurley.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/valerie-Vili2-Mark-Dadswell.jpg That's athletic figure too.
 
Kokoso said:
Well thickset is the right word I guess, as you could notice if you want to.
I don't know if there's a language barrier issue, but I can't possibly imagine thickset is the word you're after either. It's not about whether I want to notice anything. It's that I don't see what you're seeing, or don't interpret what I'm seeing the same way you do.

I still think Henkel has more of a "powerful" build than Eckhoff has, and would describe Eckhoff as being more "slight" than Henkel is - I have already acknowledged that Henkel's diminutive height affects this, and stated that Eckhoff's hunched skiing technique also doesn't help as it makes her look shorter than she is, and therefore wider in comparison to her height.
 
Kokoso said:
Girl who is more one head smaller than man yet she has thicker legs. That tells me she can't be slender or something. Don't you agree? On the other that doesn't mean she can't look athletic. Athletes even look like this http://www.kameronhurley.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/valerie-Vili2-Mark-Dadswell.jpg That's athletic figure too.
Figure be damned. Tiril is a small girl built for endurance sport. She was a good skier last year, and an above average one the year before. If she keeps this form going all season à la Tora then maybe we can talk, but I think you're making far too big a deal of her apparent transformation, which is far smaller than that which has gone on in Solemdal, Soukalová or even Mäkäräinen in previous years.

It's a good job we know we're talking about endurance athletes. I mean, if Tiril freaking Eckhoff can get accused of being "stocky" and "thickset" you can see why there are so many issues related to people having negative body image and self-esteem.
 
Apr 22, 2012
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Libertine Seguros said:
It's a good job we know we're talking about endurance athletes. I mean, if Tiril freaking Eckhoff can get accused of being "stocky" and "thickset" you can see why there are so many issues related to people having negative body image and self-esteem.
It looks I offended you somehow. It has been said before, that we are talking in relative terms of endurance sport, right? so I don't really understand what is your point. In the "real world", Tiril is surely quite slender - because lot of people suffer from overweight and obesity. But there are girls with less body fat for sure, as you can judge from pictures, Tiril is the type who has quite a lot body fat even when doing endurance sport.

And Henkel is five centimetres smaller, mind you. It looks like you believe there's quite a big difference between them. And eleven kilos lighter than Tiril. 163 cm and 59 kg compared to 158 cm and 49 kg. Tiril's BMI 22.2 - that isn't exactly low for endurance athlete.
 
Jul 16, 2012
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BullsFan22 said:
So how long will this Norwegian monopoly continue? The whole season? I sure as heck hope not. 1-5 in the Women's sprint, 1-3 in the Men's sprint. This is so blatant that it's funny and sad at the same time.
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We're better than Armstrong, and better than the Kenyans or Jamaicans. The only positive test of a Norwegian XC-skier is for caffeine many years back. The skier who was not of the best Norwegians, but just under the top level, was later aquitted, and caffeine went off the doping list.

As for dominance, it's a common thing to say, that only the Norwegians need to be in top shape before christmas, to be able to qualify for the teams. Normally the competition will be harder later in the season, and in championship-seasons.

Clean sport is like a religious mantra in Norway, if one of our top skiers got busted, it would be bigger than somebody shooting the king or prime minister.
 
Kokoso said:
It looks I offended you somehow. It has been said before, that we are talking in relative terms of endurance sport, right? so I don't really understand what is your point. In the "real world", Tiril is surely quite slender - because lot of people suffer from overweight and obesity. But there are girls with less body fat for sure, as you can judge from pictures, Tiril is the type who has quite a lot body fat even when doing endurance sport.

And Henkel is five centimetres smaller, mind you. It looks like you believe there's quite a big difference between them. And eleven kilos lighter than Tiril. 163 cm and 59 kg compared to 158 cm and 49 kg. Tiril's BMI 22.2 - that isn't exactly low for endurance athlete.
The problem is that I don't really understand your point, so I'm not entirely sure what I'm arguing against, and it's devolved into a long and somewhat irrelevant side discussion of whether Tiril Eckhoff can be considered "stocky". Those official figures are quite mindblowing, I would never have been able to believe that there is 10kg difference between the two of them (in all honesty I still can't, but they're the official figures that we have to work with). Then again, I found it similarly difficult to believe that there's only 1cm height difference between Gössner and Domracheva, because their ski techniques are so different they look like there's a huge difference.

You brought her size into the argument of why she shouldn't be able to ski as fast as she is doing, but I don't really get that at all. And I don't really understand the point about her transformation when there isn't one. You can say it's interesting that somebody who wasn't a stellar junior like, say, Wierer or Dahlmeier, has got to the top the way she has (the same could also be argued for Martin Fourcade btw) and that you have reason to have doubts about her for that (and that would certainly be a fair point), but that's not really a transformation when it's taken place over a period of about three years. This isn't Synnøve Solemdal finishing 44th at the end of 2010-11 with a 1+1 shooting record, then rocking up in Östersund, finishing 4th with the same record and outskiing Magdalena Neuner. That's a transformation. I don't see anything the likes of that in Tiril Eckhoff, and if there was, it was halfway through the 2012-13 season.
 
Apr 26, 2010
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roundabout said:
I thought Fourcade was quite impressive in the 08 Ruhpolding WC.

Be right back after I look up whether that was actually the case

Eh, must have been the shooting that let him down
That, or maybe he was too stocky at that time?
 
Jun 22, 2010
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Armchaircyclist said:
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We're better than Armstrong, and better than the Kenyans or Jamaicans. The only positive test of a Norwegian XC-skier is for caffeine many years back. The skier who was not of the best Norwegians, but just under the top level, was later aquitted, and caffeine went off the doping list.

As for dominance, it's a common thing to say, that only the Norwegians need to be in top shape before christmas, to be able to qualify for the teams. Normally the competition will be harder later in the season, and in championship-seasons.

Clean sport is like a religious mantra in Norway, if one of our top skiers got busted, it would be bigger than somebody shooting the king or prime minister.
Yeah. No.
 
Apr 22, 2012
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Libertine Seguros said:
You brought her size into the argument of why she shouldn't be able to ski as fast as she is doing, but I don't really get that at all. And I don't really understand the point about her transformation when there isn't one. You can say it's interesting that somebody who wasn't a stellar junior like, say, Wierer or Dahlmeier, has got to the top the way she has (the same could also be argued for Martin Fourcade btw) and that you have reason to have doubts about her for that (and that would certainly be a fair point), but that's not really a transformation when it's taken place over a period of about three years.
Point is that girls of this stature usually aren't the fastest one on skis. That's quite unusual I think. And she hasn't great style like Domraceva either. Regarding juniors it about Vitkova - she was top before so it isn't so surprising that she's top now. Recover from meningoencefalitis can take years.
 
Apr 22, 2012
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Fourcade wasn't stellar junior, but had some decent results. And he began with biathlon only on 2003 I think. So there was lot of room for improvement probably.
 
Jul 16, 2012
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Kokoso said:
Point is that girls of this stature usually aren't the fastest one on skis. That's quite unusual I think. And she hasn't great style like Domraceva either. Regarding juniors it about Vitkova - she was top before so it isn't so surprising that she's top now. Recover from meningoencefalitis can take years.
----------------------

Marit Bjørgen: 1.69/64

By the way, Eckhoff just won a competition this summer between Norwegian top athletes from different sports. They competed in all kinds of different stuff, and one of the competitors was Johaug. Although she's skinnier than Eckhoff, surely Eckhoff is still within the norm for top skiers. Against competition from handball/football and other sports, she was probably the second skinniest one, after Johaug.

I'm also quite sure that many of the weight numbers online are incorrect, Eckhoff has taken large steps forward in the last couple of years, and is probably lighter than stated weight. I've noticed this before in many sports, the weight is given and nobody changes it, even though it is obvious that they sometimes gain or lose weight.
 
Dec 7, 2010
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Armchaircyclist said:
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We're better than Armstrong, and better than the Kenyans or Jamaicans. The only positive test of a Norwegian XC-skier is for caffeine many years back. The skier who was not of the best Norwegians, but just under the top level, was later aquitted, and caffeine went off the doping list.

As for dominance, it's a common thing to say, that only the Norwegians need to be in top shape before christmas, to be able to qualify for the teams. Normally the competition will be harder later in the season, and in championship-seasons.

Clean sport is like a religious mantra in Norway, if one of our top skiers got busted, it would be bigger than somebody shooting the king or prime minister.
Please tell me who that quote is from.

Because my first reaction was this :confused:

Immediately followed by this :rolleyes:

Ending affirmatively with this :D



As for the previous few pages of this thread...
Christ almighty. </headbangemoticon>
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Libertine Seguros said:
Russia:
They've had three relatively high profile drugs busts recently, along with a 28yo Olympic medal winner retiring suddenly and a 26yo Olympic medal winner taking a year's break with no pregnancy, illness or injury. Mitigating factor: Ustyugov was never going to beat the Svendsens and Fourcades of the world and with the strength in depth in the squad, his motivation was waning. Their women are slow skiers and have been for years.
You know your biathlon! Thanks for the read.

Although a while back, Neuner's retirement is even more suspect, her unique personality notwithstanding. Did she refuse to get on the program, or was she told she'd get one more season and then the fun would be over?

On the improved skiing of Belarus, not trying to copy her technical skills would be crazy dumb. And at times it's hard to tell them from Darya for technique. More so than other nations.

Too add (the obvious) on body styles. All female skiers of note are skinny compared to Bjoergen, who wins 30km races more than she loses them.
Neuner was a superbly fast skier with long powerful strokes rather than finesse and high turnover efficiency. Not a typical slender girl like most of them, but still tiny compared to Bjoergen.

For Johaug to get a good margin over a 10km classic to Bjoergen, based only on body style, is a no-brainer. Just, history shows Bjoergen to be all but unbeatable.
Bjoergen's more powerful style should be less convenient in less than perfect kick conditions. Traditionally, I think Johaug get good grip in classic, unless sprints. Johaug's higher tempo means more kicks per kilometer, less traction/impulse needed per kick. Plus, she is much lighter. Bjoergen probably being on the Lance program of understated body weight to not make her power output more crazy than it already seems.
That all said, you'd expect the world to produce a skier to stay closer to Johaug, regardless of where Bjoergen places. I personally think her skis were just superior to the likes of Kalla. And obviously for fighting spirit there is no equal to Johaug. Not saying any world cup girl is slacking, no such thing.
 
Cloxxki said:
You know your biathlon! Thanks for the read.

Although a while back, Neuner's retirement is even more suspect, her unique personality notwithstanding. Did she refuse to get on the program, or was she told she'd get one more season and then the fun would be over?
Refusing to get on the program would seem a strange reason, given Lena's massive success, financial and sponsor benefit to the DSV, popularity and public persona etc.; if she was achieving all she was clean, and the DSV were pressuring her to dope which caused her to become disillusioned and retire, they're idiots, as they sacrificed several years' worth of good results and success for what exactly? The team has over the last four years been utterly gutted. The loss of Wilhelm, Glagow and Denkinger/Hauswald in one go in 2010 was softened by the emergence of Bachmann and Gössner, but the former has disappeared into the either and the latter, while a potential race winner in any race she's on skiing form, is woefully inconsistent when she is healthy, and has an injury list to rival most human cannonballs. Henkel has been leant on continuously, but she's now gone. They even resorted to stunt-casting, transferring a popular XC skier to biathlon late in her career (which blew up in their face spectacularly). Hitzer/Lang post-baby break has been a shell of the athlete she was before it.

And look at the men: with Greis retiring, they had a few men who were big successes at the Junior Worlds a few years ago. While Schempp has gone on to become a World Cup winner, he doesn't look like the guy to beat a Fourcade or a Svendsen with any regularity. Lesser was a decent but inconsistent junior, a role he fills on the World Cup too. Graf was a good junior, but has never settled in the World Cup. Peiffer was a World Champion a few years ago and 4th in the World Cup; he disappeared off the face of the earth at the same time as Bachmann. Christoph Stephan likewise. And there are a number of successful men as Juniors who've gone absolutely nowhere - Manuel Müller and Tom Barth to name the most obvious two. The same goes for the women. Of athletes born etween 1987 and 1993, only Miriam Gössner has become a World Cup fixture while other successful juniors of the time have gone nowhere. Did they really only produce one worthy talent for six whole years, or is something else at play here?

Neuner's retirement is, and will probably always remain, hard to read. She had the chance to retire in front of her home fans, and she had achieved all there was to do in the sport, except the stats-padding of going after Forsberg's record number of wins, and as you note her personality doesn't lend itself to narcissistic result-hunting and self-promotion. She has gotten married and started a family since the retirement, which may also point itself as a potential reason; I can't imagine she wanted to be the kind of mother that's jetting around the world with her kids like Kuzmina, Zaitseva or Flatland. At the same time, the step down in results for so many Germans over the course of the Olympic cycle can always be the source of speculation, especially given their domination in an era that wasn't exactly renowned for its cleanliness (and the scandal erupting in another endurance sport about doping going on in Germany during that era, of course).
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Libertine Seguros said:
Refusing to get on the program would seem a strange reason, given Lena's massive success, financial and sponsor benefit to the DSV, popularity and public persona etc.;
I actually didn't word that properly. Another option is that she was considered too fishily quick, and TPTB somehow worked her out of the sport. One last season and we don't want your doping in here anymore. Someone could have had it in for her her but also interests for it to be an uneventful retirement.
With someone as outstanding in performance and personality as Lena it's difficult to come up with any scenario other than the official one. Still...how can we expect anyone to be so dominant and have been clean all along? We don't believe Bjoerndalen to be Mr. Clean, why would we believe Lena? Or would we think Bjoerndalen started doping only when getting too old?

We appreciate that she was consistent in her speed, and we appreciate that she complained about too little testing. But dopers have accomplished that also.
If she was the clean one in a doped team (the Moncoutie complex), that may well have caused internal struggles to the point of her getting fed up with the sport and the people, not feeling like training so hard, giving up a real life, and compete to team mates she knew had an chemical advantage. This also doesn't make sense, because how can she be the fastest and cleanest, in such a talent rich team and sport? You have to consider that perhaps the whole women's team has been squeaky quick for the past few years. Birnbacher, Peiffer, Henkel...not so sure they were clean for their best performances. If we can't even get clean Sachenbacher performances...
 
Cloxxki said:
If she was the clean one in a doped team (the Moncoutie complex), that may well have caused internal struggles to the point of her getting fed up with the sport and the people, not feeling like training so hard, giving up a real life, and compete to team mates she knew had an chemical advantage. This also doesn't make sense, because how can she be the fastest and cleanest, in such a talent rich team and sport? You have to consider that perhaps the whole women's team has been squeaky quick for the past few years. Birnbacher, Peiffer, Henkel...not so sure they were clean for their best performances. If we can't even get clean Sachenbacher performances...
I kind of make the assumption that Henkel was part of the generation most likely to have been doping. That golden generation of German girls who dominated and came and went in unison; she was very much an outlier in terms of where she was in her career the last few years, among a much younger squad, the last hanger-on from that generation somehow surviving past almost all of the '86-'87 generation (except Hildebrand, who didn't break through until later). You're then left with Gössner, Dahlmeier and Preuß. All of them won medals at the World Championships at the Junior level while still Youth competitors - Gössner despite missing bucketloads of targets as usual - so you could argue all 3 were big talents before they get to the industrial process of the top level. Neuner and Gössner were close friends and remained so after Neuner left the sport. If Neuner were to have been fed up with being the clean one in a doped team, then that would raise a further question along with the one that you raise - why would this not affect her personal relationship there, if it was such a big deal to her that it drove her to retirement? But then if Gössner were also clean, you have by FAR the two strongest skiers of the German women in the last decade both being clean in a dirty team? That would seem pretty unlikely. But then, Neuner broke into the team at the time of the super strong mid-2000s team on the strength of performances in the Deutschlandpokal as a teenager; she was a super skiing talent long before she broke through to the national team, if she was doping, was she really going to have been doping as a 14-year-old Schülercup winner? If she then did dope, where in the development process did it start?

The puzzle pieces are a lot harder to piece together to produce a cohesive story of what we think is going on than with, say, Maxim Maksimov's once-a-year World Championships miracles, or the saga of the Austrian men's team's ski times. That's not to say the dots aren't there to join, of course. But each potential interpretation has questions that it raises and it's hard to get a fuller picture.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Could some of the pieces in the puzzle come from the enforcement? IBU and anti doping?

The IBU president has Dr. Ferrari on speed dial to get the latest dope and masking for his son. One little mention of this in the press and he resigns. See how much Verbruggen endured. Strange to say the least. To keep his sun on the snow perhaps as the greater cause?

The puzzle fits much better with Neuner and Goessner also on doping. How else could they not be matched by ANY of the proven dopers? If doping helps in any sport, it is biathlon. Relatively low speeds, huge climbing, and shooting which requires recovery.
And if Neuner well so well on dope at 17-18y/o, how can we presume she was clean at 14? Just not quite done building muscle. And hey, I am a huge Neuner fan, but have to be realistic. And I honestly can't see how a team of mixed clean and doped skiers can be so closely matched.
Neuner and Goessner sure are more talented for ski speed with a heavy rifle than Henkel. But to overcome doping available? Which doper ever stays away from hard core blood doping? Only very rare ones. Stupid ones.

I can see one highly hypothetical scenario, where Neuner got fed up with the system of doping, the lying, the hiding, etc. And as leader of the team proposed for every one of them to go off the juice religiously. She may have liked her chances to do well, but her team mates and coaches would likely not want to stop feeding the geese that lay the golden eggs.
So Neuner goes on limiting her doping Ullrich style (as claimed at least), taking just enough to stay around the best ski times. No more nuclear. And as such, open to more stringent testing, knowing she's now well within testing limits at all times.
Failing to get satisfaction of winning doped, and seeing no way to end doping without hurting so many people she holds close to her heart, she gives her devoted fans a year to get used to losing her, and then leaves the sport.
Goessner may then have followed Neuner's lead, soft doping, and recovering slower from her injuries than we've seen of other world class athletes. Football players, and even XC skiers.

Rather than suddenly improved skiing from midfielders joining the best ski times, I prefer to see someone like Makarainen starting to hit more targets. I'm sure blood doping would help shooting performance, but her skiing seems well in line with previous years.

Folks like Peiffer, how did they go from top skier to never again? How do they find energy to continue? So easy to assume that he just got a double dose, was lucky to avoid detection or have his coach buy off IBU (very plausible if necessary with such leadership) and now backed off the juice to more sensible levels of detection risk.
 
Mar 4, 2010
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Top performers at the Winter Olympics

2002
http://realbiathlon.blogspot.se/2013/06/top-performers-at-2002-winter-olympics.html

2006
http://realbiathlon.blogspot.se/2013/06/top-performers-at-2006-winter-olympics.html

2010
http://realbiathlon.blogspot.se/2013/06/top-performers-at-2010-winter-olympics.html

Have a look at the ski speed % of the german girls in Salt Lake. ^^

Cloxxki said:
Rather than suddenly improved skiing from midfielders joining the best ski times, I prefer to see someone like Makarainen starting to hit more targets. I'm sure blood doping would help shooting performance, but her skiing seems well in line with previous years.
"Mäkäräinen's breakthrough came pretty unexpectedly. After four year of hardly changing average race positions, well outside the top ten (25.0 → 19.5 → 19.6 → 24.5), she managed to cut her average rank to 7.4 in 2010–11 to win the overall title. She can mostly thank her improved ski speed: 3 years ago her average course time ranks (16.0 → 15.4 → 5.0 → 2.6 → 2.7) suddenly exploded."

http://realbiathlon.blogspot.se/2013/07/whats-next-for-kaisa-makarainen.html

% gap to median skier

04-05: 2.3
05-06: 0.4
06-07: -1.0
07-08: -3.1
08-09: -2.6
09-10: -3.2
10-11: -5.4
11-12: -6.6
12-13: -6.4
 
Mar 4, 2010
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2002

DISL Uschi GER -8.2
APEL Katrin GER -7.7
WILHELM Kati GER -7.0
HENKEL Andrea GER -3.2

http://realbiathlon.blogspot.se/2013/06/top-performers-at-2002-winter-olympics.html

2006

DISL Uschi GER -6.2
WILHELM Kati GER -5.6
BECK Martina GER -4.1
HENKEL Andrea GER -1.8

http://realbiathlon.blogspot.se/2013/06/top-performers-at-2006-winter-olympics.html

Two things stand out 1) Ridiculously fast in 2002 (the top 3 skiers, best non germans at 6.1%) 2) Henkel far slower than the rest of the team both in -02 and -06.
 
Cloxxki said:
Could some of the pieces in the puzzle come from the enforcement? IBU and anti doping?

The IBU president has Dr. Ferrari on speed dial to get the latest dope and masking for his son. One little mention of this in the press and he resigns. See how much Verbruggen endured. Strange to say the least. To keep his sun on the snow perhaps as the greater cause?
Daniel Taschler has long since missed the boat as a World Cup contender though. Seems more like Gottlieb (a VP rather than the president) is either more dodgy than has been found thus far, and jumping now over a fairly minor thing will make people less likely to pry, or he just got some cold feet about it because the President gave him the indication they wouldn't be able to stand by him.

Goessner may then have followed Neuner's lead, soft doping, and recovering slower from her injuries than we've seen of other world class athletes. Football players, and even XC skiers.
In fairness, comparable injuries to hers are few and far between, so it's hard to say whether it's slow recovery or not. I mean, she broke her back to pieces. That's a long-term injury in any sport. If it hadn't been an Olympic year, she probably wouldn't have raced to be back last season, and then would probably have recovered properly, which might have meant she was starting this season fully healthy.

The timeline you propose would seem to be the line of best fit for the situation, at least out of the timelines proposed thus far. It does beg a few questions still, of course, as I said before, nothing fits quite perfectly here. Did Andi Birnbacher not get the memo, as his rise coincides with the fall of the likes of Peiffer and Stephan? Do you believe Tina Bachmann's glandular condition story or does her immediate and severe decline coincide with a drop-off in doping (or, perhaps most likely, a little from column A and a little from column B)?

Peiffer does still occasionally surface near the top - Pokljuka last year, for example - but his drop-off in terms of usual performance has been dramatic.
Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle was brought in for stunt casting, was sent off to the IBU Cup almost by herself and then was kept away from the relay for most of her time as a biathlete. It was almost like they wanted the increased attention and media presence that her popularity and previous success as an XC skier would bring, but didn't really want to integrate her into the biathlon team properly until they had to. In the timeline as you draw it, does this then suggest there was concern she would go into business for herself? The problem is, as there isn't too much concrete to hang on to at this point (more may come out) to make the line fit, we have to do quite a lot of speculation (and this is not a knock on you). It's hard to formulate anything that isn't hamstrung by a lot of interpretive readings of the timeline.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Good stuff TT!

Did others have a similar explosion, as to suspect the worst dopers had been cut off for the best clean skiers to advance?
 
Jun 22, 2010
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Tyler'sTwin said:
2002

DISL Uschi GER -8.2
APEL Katrin GER -7.7
WILHELM Kati GER -7.0
HENKEL Andrea GER -3.2

http://realbiathlon.blogspot.se/2013/06/top-performers-at-2002-winter-olympics.html

2006

DISL Uschi GER -6.2
WILHELM Kati GER -5.6
BECK Martina GER -4.1
HENKEL Andrea GER -1.8

http://realbiathlon.blogspot.se/2013/06/top-performers-at-2006-winter-olympics.html

Two things stand out 1) Ridiculously fast in 2002 (the top 3 skiers, best non germans at 6.1%) 2) Henkel far slower than the rest of the team both in -02 and -06.
Yea, the 2002 Olympics are very shady, both Biathlon and Cross Country. Cross Country has had its moment with Lazutina, Danilova and Muehlegg busted straight up, but biathlon (to my knowledge) didn't have any 'publicized' doping cases. There were athletes that were later found out, like Pyleva, a few Austrians, and one or two others, but nothing during the 2002 games.

I'd love to know what happened here and who the big names are:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/07/sports/olympics/athletes-change-but-stain-of-doping-lingers.html?_r=0
 
Apr 7, 2011
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Cloxxki said:
Could some of the pieces in the puzzle come from the enforcement? IBU and anti doping?

The IBU president has Dr. Ferrari on speed dial to get the latest dope and masking for his son. One little mention of this in the press and he resigns. See how much Verbruggen endured. Strange to say the least. To keep his sun on the snow perhaps as the greater cause?

The puzzle fits much better with Neuner and Goessner also on doping. How else could they not be matched by ANY of the proven dopers? If doping helps in any sport, it is biathlon. Relatively low speeds, huge climbing, and shooting which requires recovery.
And if Neuner well so well on dope at 17-18y/o, how can we presume she was clean at 14? Just not quite done building muscle. And hey, I am a huge Neuner fan, but have to be realistic. And I honestly can't see how a team of mixed clean and doped skiers can be so closely matched.
Neuner and Goessner sure are more talented for ski speed with a heavy rifle than Henkel. But to overcome doping available? Which doper ever stays away from hard core blood doping? Only very rare ones. Stupid ones.

I can see one highly hypothetical scenario, where Neuner got fed up with the system of doping, the lying, the hiding, etc. And as leader of the team proposed for every one of them to go off the juice religiously. She may have liked her chances to do well, but her team mates and coaches would likely not want to stop feeding the geese that lay the golden eggs.
So Neuner goes on limiting her doping Ullrich style (as claimed at least), taking just enough to stay around the best ski times. No more nuclear. And as such, open to more stringent testing, knowing she's now well within testing limits at all times.
Failing to get satisfaction of winning doped, and seeing no way to end doping without hurting so many people she holds close to her heart, she gives her devoted fans a year to get used to losing her, and then leaves the sport.
Goessner may then have followed Neuner's lead, soft doping, and recovering slower from her injuries than we've seen of other world class athletes. Football players, and even XC skiers.

Rather than suddenly improved skiing from midfielders joining the best ski times, I prefer to see someone like Makarainen starting to hit more targets. I'm sure blood doping would help shooting performance, but her skiing seems well in line with previous years.

Folks like Peiffer, how did they go from top skier to never again? How do they find energy to continue? So easy to assume that he just got a double dose, was lucky to avoid detection or have his coach buy off IBU (very plausible if necessary with such leadership) and now backed off the juice to more sensible levels of detection risk.
Neuner's performance was pretty stable throughout her career, though.

Runninng index throughout her career.

05/06 99,38 (only few races, 18 years old)
06/07 102,33
07/08 103, 54
08/09 101,98 (number mainly down cause of early season illness struggle)
09/10 102,23
10/11 103,3
12/12 102,83

That's a pretty stable perfomance really throughout her career.
Notice that running index is depending on competition.
In her very last races Neuner had the following index.

Sprint: 105,27
Handicap race: 103,03
Mass start 104,99

She retired at the top of her game
 
May 19, 2010
1,403
0
0
Biathlon:

Interview with Wolfgang Pichler:

http://www.sports.ru/tribuna/blogs/russiateam/715464.html (Russian)
https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=no&ie=UTF-8&u=http://www.sports.ru/tribuna/blogs/russiateam/715464.html&edit-text= (Google translate)

Describes a paralel group to his, initated by the ministry.

Some World Cup-names of the 'alternative team': Olga Vilukhina, Irina Starykh, Ekaterina Iourieva, Daria Virolaynen, Olga Podchufarova

Journalist: In Russia, there is the concept of "system" - it means that doping is permitted and controlled by the supreme sports management. The case of Starykh and Iourieva - system?

- Most likely. Personally, I think that this was done because of the enormous pressure. Apparently, sports functionaries did not believe in a clean way, and decided to organize the reception of doping. Perhaps this is one reason why the Olympic season was created alternative women's team.

I never doubted that Iourieva uses doping. I have always opposed her, fought against her inclusion in the team. We did not want to work with her, but you can not just go to another coach to ask: but you do not accidentally give the athlete doping? Iourieva was supported from the top, by the Ministry.
 

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