Doping in XC skiing

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Feb 4, 2012
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Random Direction said:
They must have better stones in Norway. Finer, coastal fjord stones.

yes, skis make a difference, but, save for waxing fiasco days where one is double poling on classic skis up a hill because there is no grip, or when there is an inch of snow stuck under the kick zone, skis and wax are marginal - especially with national team techs.

I've had slower athletes win races because everyone else focused on waxing instead of what was happening in their minds. Not sure they ever one because of wax - lost, yes.

At the elite level, major differences in speed are more likely clinic related than not.
Very true. Bjoergen still managed to win 3 gold medals (2 of them individual events) at Sochi, when team Norway supposedly had such terrible skis .
 
Sep 25, 2009
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Pazuzu said:
Very true. Bjoergen still managed to win 3 gold medals (2 of them individual events) at Sochi, when team Norway supposedly had such terrible skis .
the relative norwegian podiums paucity in sochi attributed to 'bad skis' were largely a spin. a cover up to disguise from a highly expecting, disappointed fan the coaching/preparation mistakes (later admitted once the the snow dust settled)

i deliberately used the word 'largely' because there were indeed days when their skis (viewed on a tele screen) did not perform as well as for instance, the swedish skis did.

during the olympiad, i have posted here several personal analysis, that for example, northug's results vs sundby's had little to do with their skis (as the norwegian media lead us to believe att) but with their fitness difference.

as for ski preparation playing a minor role, i disagree in general. though, i'd agree that at the elite level the difference between the richest national teams had probably shrunk...the best waxing technicians (along with their secrets) have increasingly moved around in search of better pay.

the norwegian dominance as ever is intriguing, both in the clinic and and non-clinic ways. the speculation will continue to dilute some valid suspicious.

that is - until the nowegians start failing doping tests.
 
May 19, 2010
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So now it's been a year since IOC sent Kristina Smigun that letter requesting explanation after they retested samples from the 2006 Winter Olympics. Still no news from IOC about this, it was supposed to come after Sochi.
 
Kokoso said:
Rest of Vítková times are:
13., 18., 17., 20., 23., 25., 24., 24., 23., 29., 26., 26., 16., 22., 20., 9., 9., 17., 22., 15., 16., 19., 17.
How can she possibly be 32nd, 30th or 28th skier? I don't understand that :confused:
Some athletes who only participated in some races were probably ahead of her. For example, on the same list as has Tiril Eckhoff 10th and Veronika Vitková 32nd (I seem to have used one from partway through the season, hence the slightly erroneous results), you have Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle (who didn't do any races after Sochi, and didn't qualify for a number of pursuit races due to poor shooting even when skiing well) and Miriam Gössner (who only entered races in the first two World Cups) both included in the number ahead of her.

This also partly accounts for the discrepance between the 30th and 28th in the different season-end figures, as I note Gössner appears in one and not the other, so presumably one is a pure "ski speed from races entered" and the other has removed those who only did a few events so as to give a better season-long guide. It looks to me like Kathrin Lang and Hilde Fenne are the two exceptions who have been removed from the latter link due to low number of races entered.

Either way, on these figures, Vitková appears 28th without the outliers, and has climbed to 5th fastest overall. Even from the numbers you have above she only has two top 10 ski times, so she has still made some pretty significant progress in her ski speed.

More so than Tiril Eckhoff, who now progresses from 10th fastest to in fact being 8th fastest season-long last year, so when you remove the retired Berger and Sachenbacher-Stehle, the absent Kuzmina, and the out-of-form Solemdal, she rises to 4th. Behind Domracheva and Mäkäräinen - both of whom are faster than her this year too - and Soukalová, who was out of form at Östersund too.

So really, Tiril's skiing has actually improved LESS than I was saying, and I was the one saying that you were going way over the top in your descriptions of her transformation of ski speed, because there isn't much of one at all. Certainly not compared to Vitková.

If you're saying Vitková's had illnesses that cause it, then fair enough (the same apparently applied to Soukalová, whose transformation was bigger than both Vitková's and Eckhoff's combined together and then doubled!), but I really don't understand why you're jumping on Eckhoff as a transformer ahead of anyone else.
 
Apr 22, 2012
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Libertine Seguros said:
Some athletes who only participated in some races were probably ahead of her. For example, on the same list as has Tiril Eckhoff 10th and Veronika Vitková 32nd (I seem to have used one from partway through the season, hence the slightly erroneous results), you have Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle (who didn't do any races after Sochi, and didn't qualify for a number of pursuit races due to poor shooting even when skiing well) and Miriam Gössner (who only entered races in the first two World Cups) both included in the number ahead of her.

This also partly accounts for the discrepance between the 30th and 28th in the different season-end figures, as I note Gössner appears in one and not the other, so presumably one is a pure "ski speed from races entered" and the other has removed those who only did a few events so as to give a better season-long guide. It looks to me like Kathrin Lang and Hilde Fenne are the two exceptions who have been removed from the latter link due to low number of races entered.

Either way, on these figures, Vitková appears 28th without the outliers, and has climbed to 5th fastest overall. Even from the numbers you have above she only has two top 10 ski times, so she has still made some pretty significant progress in her ski speed.

More so than Tiril Eckhoff, who now progresses from 10th fastest to in fact being 8th fastest season-long last year, so when you remove the retired Berger and Sachenbacher-Stehle, the absent Kuzmina, and the out-of-form Solemdal, she rises to 4th. Behind Domracheva and Mäkäräinen - both of whom are faster than her this year too - and Soukalová, who was out of form at Östersund too.

So really, Tiril's skiing has actually improved LESS than I was saying, and I was the one saying that you were going way over the top in your descriptions of her transformation of ski speed, because there isn't much of one at all. Certainly not compared to Vitková.

If you're saying Vitková's had illnesses that cause it, then fair enough (the same apparently applied to Soukalová, whose transformation was bigger than both Vitková's and Eckhoff's combined together and then doubled!), but I really don't understand why you're jumping on Eckhoff as a transformer ahead of anyone else.
So Vítková was in fact faster than 28th. It's more like from 20th to 5th, what is still considerable jump but not so huge anymore and her last results aren't top five anymore. You can also say that she made jump from like 6th last season to 3rd this season and that is not big jump anymore. Depends on what way you look at it.
Well I'm not jumping on Eckhoff anymore, do I?

I don't understand why are you talking about Soukalova and what transfromation of her you mean. You can't even talk about transformation in her case, because 2012/13 was in fact first season of Soukalova in WC so she did very well from the beginning. Eckhoff made bigger jump than Soukalova in fact.
 
Kokoso said:
So Vítková was in fact faster than 28th. It's more like from 20th to 5th, what is still considerable jump but not so huge anymore and her last results aren't top five anymore. You can also say that she made jump from like 6th last season to 3rd this season and that is not big jump anymore. Depends on what way you look at it.
Well I'm not jumping on Eckhoff anymore, do I?

I don't understand why are you talking about Soukalova and what transfromation of her you mean. You can't even talk about transformation in her case, because 2012/13 was in fact first season of Soukalova in WC so she did very well from the beginning. Eckhoff made bigger jump than Soukalova in fact.
20th from 5th is still a bigger jump than the one you jumped at Eckhoff for. Even if you say you're not jumping on her anymore, you still did so, and while you may not be wrong to suspect her, the reasons you have given for doing so strike me as either faulty or disingenuous.

I repeat my spiel from earlier.

I'm really not understanding why you've been going after Tiril as that suspicious. You point out that she wasn't that good as a junior, and this is a fair criticism, but as a quick comparison between athletes a year apart in age:

Gabriela Soukalová, Torsby 2010:
Individual 13
Sprint 14
Pursuit 10

Tiril Kampenhaug Eckhoff, Nové Město 2011:
Individual 8
Sprint 16
Pursuit 5

It is true, however, that Soukalová did better at Canmore 2009 as a first year junior than Eckhoff did at Torsby.

You defended Soukalová's 2012-13 coming out party (93rd to 6th in the World Cup) as her having been a strong junior whose 2011-12 season had been ruined by mononucleosis. Now, the injury-ridden season can happen to anyone. But at the tail end of the year that she emerged, Tiril Eckhoff started building good results. She had a very strong final block from Oslo to Khanty-Mansiysk then. And if Soukalová's results were those of a strong junior, how can Tiril's results be dismissed as her not being a good junior - it's true that neither were teenage phenoms like Johannes Bø, Laura Dahlmeier (who is 3 years younger than Tiril and podiumed that 2011 Junior Worlds pursuit) or Miriam Gössner (who managed to finish 2nd in a 2009 Junior Worlds sprint race as an 18 year old, despite missing 5 targets), but they weren't exactly weak.

If we then say Soukalová's 2012-13 should match up to Eckhoff's 2013-14 (since they're a year apart in age), then Soukalová's step up - even when the illness-ridden previous season is not accounted for - is more significant than Tiril's. Soukalová climbed to 6th in the World Cup, with six podiums and four wins (also super-peaking, as these were all at two events, three at Pokljuka and three at Khanty); Tiril climbed to 7th in the World Cup, with two podiums and no wins. Soukalová went from the girl who could start a pursuit with bib #1, hit all 20 targets and still lose on the skis to somebody who skied 5 penalties, to being 6th fastest skier overall all season in 2012-13; Eckhoff was 29th fastest that season, which improved to 10th last year. Soukalová started 2013-14 with a bang in Östersund just as Tiril has done this year.

If you write out Soukalová's 2011-12 as an outlier that masks her true potential, her career path and Eckhoff's aren't all that dissimilar.
Soukalová came absolutely out of nowhere in 2012-13, because she was no better or worse than Eckhoff as a junior, but because of her illness-affected 2011-12 season, she went from being an absolute no-name to being one of the biggest names in the sport. And you are now saying that because of this she did not have a transformation and Eckhoff had more of one, because she followed the same career path but improved gradually on the World Cup scene rather than having her path from juniors to the World Cup blocked off.

Soukalová and Eckhoff have comparable results as a junior. One then disappears for a year due to illness then comes back at the top, the other climbs through the rankings and arrives at the top in less spectacular style at a comparable time. You defended Soukalová's transformation back in 2012 as her having been a good junior whose career was blocked off by illness. You then attacked Eckhoff's so-called transformation saying she wasn't that good as a junior. Yet they have similar results. How is one suspicious and not the other? Even more so, how is the one whose jump through the World Cup levels is instantaneous and involves some serious super-peaking (6 podiums including 4 wins all at 2 World Cup events) less suspicious than the one who has increased their level more gradually and with less immediately obvious results (only 2 podiums in their 2013-14 season)?

A problem in reading your discussions on these is that you have previous form for attacking athletes whose form changes have not been extreme, while ignoring far more extreme changes in form from your countrymen and women, and while you have acknowledged these at times, it is often only after being called out.

And just like your calling out Landertinger but not Soukup reeked of bias (you later accepted Soukup's superpeaking is pretty suspicious), calling out Eckhoff (and using the ski speed of Vitková indirectly as a fulcrum to attack Tiril from) seems on equally shaky ground when you've been quite fervent in your defence of other athletes who have had similar or greater transformations.
 
Apr 22, 2012
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Libertine Seguros said:
Soukalová came absolutely out of nowhere in 2012-13, because she was no better or worse than Eckhoff as a junior, but because of her illness-affected 2011-12 season, she went from being an absolute no-name to being one of the biggest names in the sport. And you are now saying that because of this she did not have a transformation and Eckhoff had more of one, because she followed the same career path but improved gradually on the World Cup scene rather than having her path from juniors to the World Cup blocked off.

Soukalová and Eckhoff have comparable results as a junior. One then disappears for a year due to illness then comes back at the top, the other climbs through the rankings and arrives at the top in less spectacular style at a comparable time. You defended Soukalová's transformation back in 2012 as her having been a good junior whose career was blocked off by illness. You then attacked Eckhoff's so-called transformation saying she wasn't that good as a junior. Yet they have similar results. How is one suspicious and not the other? Even more so, how is the one whose jump through the World Cup levels is instantaneous and involves some serious super-peaking (6 podiums including 4 wins all at 2 World Cup events) less suspicious than the one who has increased their level more gradually and with less immediately obvious results (only 2 podiums in their 2013-14 season)?

A problem in reading your discussions on these is that you have previous form for attacking athletes whose form changes have not been extreme, while ignoring far more extreme changes in form from your countrymen and women, and while you have acknowledged these at times, it is often only after being called out.

And just like your calling out Landertinger but not Soukup reeked of bias (you later accepted Soukup's superpeaking is pretty suspicious), calling out Eckhoff (and using the ski speed of Vitková indirectly as a fulcrum to attack Tiril from) seems on equally shaky ground when you've been quite fervent in your defence of other athletes who have had similar or greater transformations.
Ok, I said that before and I'm saiyng it again for it's not clear to you: I'm no longer suspect of Eckhoff.

If you take it this way, we all came out of nowhere in the end ;)
But no, Soukalova didn't came out of nowhere in 2012/13. Look at her 2010/11 season - that was great season in IBU cup, she was significantly better than Eckhoff in that season. She wasn't absolute no name. Soukalova was better than Eckhoff when younger, not comparable. Soukalova was fast in 2010/11 and was simply fast again in 2012/13.
And she wasn't "serously superpeaking" at 2012/13. What's with that "serious superpeaking" anyway? :confused:

I don't know what athletes you are talking about. I haven't said a word about Ladertinger this season. And who else?
 
Kokoso said:
Ok, I said that before and I'm saiyng it again for it's not clear to you: I'm no longer suspect of Eckhoff.

If you take it this way, we all came out of nowhere in the end ;)
But no, Soukalova didn't came out of nowhere in 2012/13. Look at her 2010/11 season - that was great season in IBU cup, she was significantly better than Eckhoff in that season. She wasn't absolute no name. Soukalova was better than Eckhoff when younger, not comparable. Soukalova was fast in 2010/11 and was simply fast again in 2012/13.
And she wasn't "serously superpeaking" at 2012/13. What's with that "serious superpeaking" anyway? :confused:

I don't know what athletes you are talking about. I haven't said a word about Ladertinger this season. And who else?
4 wins and 2 other podiums: all at two places (Pokljuka and Khanty-Mansiysk).

Eckhoff's also a year younger than Soukalová, so you should be judging Eckhoff's 2011-12 against Soukalová's 2010-11.

In the 2010-11 IBU Cup, Soukalová was 8th (347 points) and 68th in the World Cup (35 points).
In the 2011-12 IBU Cup, Eckhoff was 11th (288 points) and 54th in the World Cup (74 points).

In the 2011-12 season, Soukalová missed most of it due to illness.
In the 2012-13 season, Eckhoff climbed to 29th in the World Cup (299 points).

In the 2012-13 season, Soukalová was 6th in the overall WC with four wins.
In the 2013-14 season, Eckhoff was 7th in the overall WC with no wins.

Eckhoff had improved over the course of the 2012-13 season, with her best results block being the last one, Holmenkollen, Sochi and Khanty-Mansiysk, where her results were 15, 6, 20, 50, 11, 10, 12, 10. The anomalous 50th is in an Individual, and as you would agree with your assessment of her build, it is not surprising that she is less competitive in the events with longer skiing distances (a fact that continues to bear itself out to this day) and most competitive for ski speed in the shorter races.

The almost complete loss of the 2011-12 season for Soukalová makes her rise look more suspicious, and if I'm totally honest I've never really got over this initial concern because of not knowing where she'd come from (because she was not a "can't miss" junior prospect like a Dahlmeier or Johannes Bø I had more or less forgotten about her in her absence, as opposed to somebody like Dorothea Wierer, who was the class of that year's field in the Juniors). But when you plug in the numbers, the cold hard numbers make Eckhoff's and Soukalová's career paths actually look pretty similar, although Soukalová has shown a better knack for turning form into podiums and wins while Eckhoff has been more consistent but perhaps less spectacular; also the fact that Norway have usually had at least one name garnering attention ahead of her (the always-up-there Tora Berger, and the sporadically-brilliant Synnøve Solemdal) may mean that, as with me not logging Soukalová's illness or remembering her promising showings before that, Eckhoff's rise hasn't really been charted so her position at the top table of the sport's stars seems odd.

My issue was that you threw the suspicion out there in the first place, because I felt that your reasoning for it was misguided. Just as you jumped at me back in 2012 when I asked where the hell Soukalová had got this form from (we could also ask how somebody goes from losing a pursuit to somebody who started behind them and missed 5 targets, and is now one of the fastest in the world, but that could be just as misleading as ignoring her 2011-12 season's illness), I felt you were picking on the wrong person, or picking on the right person for the wrong reasons.

I guess that's the problem... when you're picking on the right person, the reasons don't seem right. Like when you picked on Landertinger, you picked on his sudden increase in form at the Olympics, but it was quite demonstrable that there was no increase in form, or if there was, it was minimal. In the 3 World Cups prior to the Olympics, Landertinger's results in individual races were 9, 9, 6, 5, 7, 4, 8 - he was consistently and continuously up there. Soukup, by contrast, managed 48, 30, DNQ (not high enough in WC standings to make the Mass Start at Oberhof), 10, 12, then skipped Antholz to train. If you had picked on Landertinger due to what you later pointed out - Austrian suspicious rising and falling - you would have got no complaints. But because you attacked him for sudden form, and then when asked why you had said nothing about Soukup, answered "what about him?", it made you seem disingenuous. Because Soukup's performance was demonstrably FAR more out of nowhere than Landertinger's.

If you've revised your position on Tiril Eckhoff in the face of the statistics contradicting the immediate visual impression, then that's good. Your points about her illness and her results in 2010-11 which hadn't registered with me meant I had to at least partially revise my position on Gabriela Soukalová. Like I said, I don't think you can't suspect Eckhoff: I just think that the reasons you gave were disingenuous and, maybe unintentionally, somewhat hypocritical given the career paths of some of the Czech athletes you have railed against the suspicion of.
 
Apr 22, 2012
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Libertine Seguros said:
Eckhoff's also a year younger than Soukalová, so you should be judging Eckhoff's 2011-12 against Soukalová's 2010-11.

In the 2010-11 IBU Cup, Soukalová was 8th (347 points) and 68th in the World Cup (35 points).
In the 2011-12 IBU Cup, Eckhoff was 11th (288 points) and 54th in the World Cup (74 points).

In the 2011-12 season, Soukalová missed most of it due to illness.
In the 2012-13 season, Eckhoff climbed to 29th in the World Cup (299 points).

In the 2012-13 season, Soukalová was 6th in the overall WC with four wins.
In the 2013-14 season, Eckhoff was 7th in the overall WC with no wins.
Don't know if you can simply taky it like Soukalova 2010/11 season equals Eckhoff 2011/12, that can be wrong reasoning, not only because Eckhoff isn't year younger, but because it simply doesn't have to work like that. Maybe if you compared for instance two Norwegians it could make some sense.
If you take it other way and compare the two head two head Soukalova was always better, since juinor age. Given Czech and Norwegian amount of money in the sport, competition on the national level etc., that Soukalova probably began with the biathlon later than Eckhoff and on the international level Eckhoff started sooner than Soukalova, Soukalova was probably much more talented than Eckhoff and it just showed up in world cup first time she had opportunity to participate in full season.
 
Apr 22, 2012
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So when you compare 2010/11 IBU CUP - which is right comparison, because both of them began to participate regurarly there - Soukalova was better back then. Soukalova 8th overall, 1st in sprint, 5th in pursuit, 352 points. Eckhoff 35th overall, 136 points. Soukalova was faster - she was fast back then, Eckhoff made bigger jump in skiing over the years.
2011/12 season was ruind by ilness and 2012/13 Soukalova simply continued her progress in WC.

Also I don't understand what you mean with this "we could also ask how somebody goes from losing a pursuit to somebody who started behind them and missed 5 targets, and is now one of the fastest in the world"? :confused:

As my reasoning is biased toward some athletes yours is as well with Soukalova.
 
Kokoso said:
Don't know if you can simply taky it like Soukalova 2010/11 season equals Eckhoff 2011/12, that can be wrong reasoning, not only because Eckhoff isn't year younger, but because it simply doesn't have to work like that. Maybe if you compared for instance two Norwegians it could make some sense.
If you take it other way and compare the two head two head Soukalova was always better, since juinor age. Given Czech and Norwegian amount of money in the sport, competition on the national level etc., that Soukalova probably began with the biathlon later than Eckhoff and on the international level Eckhoff started sooner than Soukalova, Soukalova was probably much more talented than Eckhoff and it just showed up in world cup first time she had opportunity to participate in full season.
Well, there's six months' age difference between them, and since the Junior Worlds tends to follow age as of Jan.1, they are in separate year groups. Hence 2009 is Soukalová's first year of juniors, and 2010 is Tiril's first. Because the gap between Eckhoff and Soukalová is 6 months, taking the direct head to head when they would be in separate junior years is no more accurate than taking consecutive years in their development. It would be better if it were a neater figure, like 10 or 11 months, to make the 1 year figure neater, or 2 or 3 months to make the head to head more accurate, because at the junior level the additional experience is more important. In the German system at least, it is done on year of birth, so Vanessa Hinz (March 1992) and Annika Knoll (November 1993) are in consecutive yeargroups, despite there being nearly 2 years between them. I'm a lot more familiar with how the German system operates than I am with the Czech. That's why I went with the separate years in my comparison.

You can also argue that because there is more money and national competition in Norway, that Eckhoff won't have received the same amount of attention from the national coaches as Soukalová would, because they would have more different athletes (including some big stars) to be working with, and a larger number of talents to work on development for. It works both ways; Soukalová, it could be argued, would therefore as a promising junior get more of the coaches' attention in the Czech Republic than Tiril would in Norway, but this is counterbalanced by the greater resources available to the aspiring Norwegian compared to the aspiring Czech.

If I compare to other Norwegians, then in the same or similar age bracket we have Marion Rønning Huber (competing on IBU Cup at present), Bente Landheim (occasional WC entries - born four days after Eckhoff), Kaia Wøien Nicolaisen (who has been outside of the main cadres and only broken through to occasional WC entries this season), Ane Skrove Nossum (who has been in the IBU Cup without looking like becoming a WC talent for about three years now), Marte Olsbu (who has progressed to the fringes of the WC squad over the last two years), Elise Ringen (who had a breakthrough in 2011-12, then a bad year afterwards and has now progressed back to the middle-ranks of the WC) and Synnøve Solemdal (who had a very dramatic and instant breakthrough in 2011, then has had illness and injury blighted seasons, and looks like she may belong in the file with the likes of Svetlana Sleptsova for ridiculous inconsistency) - all are in the 1989-91 file. Those who have broken through young have then had problems (Ringen, Solemdal), while most of the others have built up their roles in the team fairly slowly.

Of the 1990 girls, Eckhoff, Landheim and Olsbu were fairly evenly matched as juniors, but Eckhoff was stronger on the skis in general. In the sprint at Torsby you can see that Eckhoff at least had some potential on the trails - with 3 misses as a first year junior she's 8 seconds shy of Soukalová with 2 in the sprint - although she doesn't set the world alight and falls away over the longer distances. It seems that, like the Russians, there is in general a couple of years between Junior performances and successes being replicated in the World Cup in that generation of Norwegians (as opposed to, say, the Germans and most of the smaller nations, who tend to reward good Junior Worlds performances with World Cup starts immediately). Remember: if Tora Berger retired at the same age Magdalena Neuner did, she would never have even made the podium of a World Cup race. There will always be casualties of the transition from junior to World Cup level too - Juliane Döll pushed Neuner all the way as a junior but couldn't adapt to the pro level at all. With Berger and Flatland being obviously locks in the squad when healthy (Flatland took a baby break of course), Horn being a development project, and the 1989 group including Solemdal and both Ringen sisters (who were useful as juniors, although only Elise has stepped up to the World Cup level), chances at the World Cup level for Eckhoff straight out of juniors may have been more limited than for Soukalová in the Czech squad, which would have less competition for places (but fewer World Cup allocations than the Norwegians to counter this of course).

It's also perhaps worth noting that Eckhoff's brother is her coach at the national level. He probably has a level of familiarity with her, her requirements and how to get the best out of her that most coaches can only dream of. She may also benefit from the family connection in terms of (probably unintended) preference for development at this point in time too, of course.
 
May 19, 2010
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IBU finally sent out a statement on the positives from the retested samples, confirming more postives for Iourieva and Starykh. as had already been reported in the Russian press. They also announced that they had provisionally suspended two biathletes from 25 November (one of them presumably is Loginov, as leaked by Tikhonov) and one biathlete from 15 December, but that the names had to be withheld for now.
IBU Press Release
21.12.2014, Salzburg
Subject: IBU suspends athletes after re-analysis in previous seasons
As officially announced in late November, the IBU pro-actively decided to re-analyze some samples that showed atypical results in the previous seasons and were therefore stored for potential future analysis. As a result, five samples were reported positive for recombinant EPO from the WADA laboratory.

Three of the samples belong to two athletes who were already suspended by the IBU's Anti – Doping Hearing Panel on July 14th 2014, namely Ms. Ekaterina IOURIEVA (one re-analyzed sample) and Ms. Irina STARYKH (two re-analyzed samples).

Ms. Ekaterina IOURIEVA was found to be ineligible to compete for a period of eight (8) years, commencing on December 13th 2013 and Irina STARYKH was found to be ineligible to compete for a period of two years, commencing on December 23th 2013.

Both athletes waived the B sample analysis of the re-analyzed samples.

Ms. Irina STARYKH's re-analyzed sample was collected in Oberhof (GER) on 2 January 2014 and Ms. Ekaterina IOURIEVA's samples for re-analysis were collected in Östersund (SWE) on 28 and 29 November 2013. The samples were taken by IBU.

The IBU Anti - Doping Hearing panel has now to decide about the possibility of increasing the period of ineligibility for both athletes.

Moreover the IBU implemented two new provisional suspensions effective as of November 25th 2014 and one effective as of December 15th 2014. The details with regard to the two latter cases will be communicated as soon as this is legally possible.
http://www3.biathlonworld.com/en/press_releases.html/do/detail?presse=2359

http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_307134/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=Z96ZfIcG
 
Kokoso said:
So when you compare 2010/11 IBU CUP - which is right comparison, because both of them began to participate regurarly there - Soukalova was better back then. Soukalova 8th overall, 1st in sprint, 5th in pursuit, 352 points. Eckhoff 35th overall, 136 points. Soukalova was faster - she was fast back then, Eckhoff made bigger jump in skiing over the years.
2011/12 season was ruind by ilness and 2012/13 Soukalova simply continued her progress in WC.

Also I don't understand what you mean with this "we could also ask how somebody goes from losing a pursuit to somebody who started behind them and missed 5 targets, and is now one of the fastest in the world"? :confused:

As my reasoning is biased toward some athletes yours is as well with Soukalova.
I did admit in the post you were responding to there that while it has been tempered, I've never truly got over my initial suspicion of Soukalová, so there is some bias there.

When I mentioned the race you quote me stating before, I also mentioned, it could also be disingenuous.

After all, Soukalová was the 6th fastest skier overall that season (improved to 4th last year). But in her breakout event, she started 1st, hit all 20 targets and lost to somebody who missed 5 targets. If you look at the pure facts of that race in isolation, it makes it incredibly suspicious that somebody who was that far off the pace could be one of the season's top skiers. But that ski performance from Gössner was anomalous and made Soukalová look far worse than she actually was on the day (10th fastest ski time).

I don't think Eckhoff's improved her skiing that considerably actually. In fact, last season, according to realbiathlon, Eckhoff was one of the most consistent skiers last season in maintaining her level.*

Going on year-on-year figures, Eckhoff was an average of 2,68% off the average of the top 10 ski times in 2012-13, with a standard deviation of 1,1% - however she did not race in February, and the main improvement in her season is in March, where she goes from being 3,4% behind to just 2% behind that average. The fluctuations in Soukalová's ski times are much bigger (standard deviation of 1,9%) however her average ski time is better, except in January where she was 3,7% behind, which seems way out from where she was the rest of the season (wasn't this where she was ill before the World Championships? If so, that would explain it). Source. Soukalová and Eckhoff then both improve their relative ski speeds into 2013-14, Soukalová by about 1% and Eckhoff by 1,5% (from 2,68% to 1,15% off the average of the top 10 ski times in 2013-14).** Both show smaller standard deviations (Soukalová's down to 1,2%, Eckhoff's down to 0,9%).

The figures for this year so far show that Soukalová has been noticeably slower - but we knew that already as she mentions her suboptimal preparation for the season. Eckhoff's improvement is pinned at 2,5%. The biggest improvers of the World Cup relevances (last year Kummer, the biggest improver, only entered one World Cup race) are Dorothea Wierer (-3,1%) and Veronika Vitková (-2,6%). However, the article stresses that ALL of the top 7 improved their levels, likely the result of a number of retirements of athletes who have previously been in that top 10 - Berger, Henkel - and those who are otherwise absent - Gasparin, Kuzmina; the figures are relative to competition, so getting a precise handle on how much somebody has improved is difficult (likewise, the absence of an everpresent top 10 skier like Gössner may have artificially inflated the improvements from 2012-13 to 2013-14). If we take her position relative to Mäkäräinen and Domracheva we arrive at Eckhoff making an improvement that is not all that far away from what she did last year, but if we take her position relative to the top 10 as a whole, a 2,5% improvement is quite noticeable (but certainly not comparable to, say, Solemdal in 2011-12 nevertheless).

*this particular article is interesting because it reduces the ski speed stats to only those who made the World Cup top 40. In it, Eckhoff improves from 8th to 7th, but Vitková improves all the way to 9th, with a vast chunk of those who were faster than her removed due to low World Cup rankings, due to missed races, injuries, terrible shooting or a combination of the above. This makes the ski speed improvements of both look far less extreme. Also, Vitková had an equally small distribution of ski speed positions relative to competition, making both of them among the most consistent skiers in the season.
 
May 19, 2010
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Moreover the IBU implemented two new provisional suspensions effective as of November 25th 2014 and one effective as of December 15th 2014. The details with regard to the two latter cases will be communicated as soon as this is legally possible.
Sednev & Bœuf? Or someone else?
 
Yeah, the ski level just took a hit this year.
Making it easier for Makarainen to be on top. Every says they trained hard on shooting, but with less dense competition, she may be able to take it easier, shoot with a less fatigued body. Leaving more for the last lap.

If Goessner beat Soukalova in such dramatic fashion on pure ski speed, should be not be looking at her wild swings in form? Even with her terrible injury, she's an odd one. Ski laps around Soukalova early on, after which Soukalova arrives among the top skiers. If you start skiing really late in life that's OK, but wth a typical carreer?
For some reason Germany has these crazy fast women from a young age (Neuner, Goessner), now being followed by a generation of ice cold shooters.
Makarainen, from a strong XC country, is alone at her level. Norway can fill a women's field all by themselves in XC, but with Berger out they barely have women to field in biathlon.
The French men are awesome skiers in biathlon, much less seem in XC, and their women are only good enough for world cups when they are good shooters. Shipulin makes it look easy while we have not seeen a competitive female Russian skier in biathlon since for forever. And those who gave hope were all taken out by doping or babies.
The discrepancies and tendencies are puzzling to me.
I know that women are very dependent on intersexual culture. Do men run their sport, gear, nutricion, or do they do it themselves or in a national setting? In mountainbiking women with a good mechanic made a difference when I was in that scene.
 
neineinei said:
Sednev & Bœuf? Or someone else?
If Bœuf is one of them, I wonder when the positive was, because he had a sudden and very clear collapse of ability on the skis last year. Using the same realbiathlon month-by-month comparison that I used for the ladies above, we see him last season at:

December: +1,61 from average of top 10 ski times
January: +4,48
February: +11,62
March: no races entered

I didn't really notice him being off the pace until the Antholz relay, where he was abysmal and lost over a minute in a 2,5km loop which is one of the flattest on the circuit. In Ruhpolding he was on the edges of the top 10 in both races, albeit mostly from his shooting.

Even if doping has nothing to do with it, there has to be something else at play there, because that drop-off in ability - just before the Olympics - is enormous. It's 10%. That's incredible.
 
Cloxxki said:
If Goessner beat Soukalova in such dramatic fashion on pure ski speed, should be not be looking at her wild swings in form? Even with her terrible injury, she's an odd one. Ski laps around Soukalova early on, after which Soukalova arrives among the top skiers. If you start skiing really late in life that's OK, but wth a typical carreer?
For some reason Germany has these crazy fast women from a young age (Neuner, Goessner), now being followed by a generation of ice cold shooters.
Gössner is the hardest of all to decipher by looking at the stats alone. She's had such a weird career. She was podiuming races at the Junior World Championships as an 18-year-old while missing 50% of the targets. Bear in mind she took up XC skiing at 14 after converting from Alpine after a major injury. She then had a year of XC specialism, then a year in the top 15 of the World Cup, then intestinal knotting ruined an offseason's training and she has a weaker year (Kontiolahti shooting 0+0 and finishing 6th, unthinkable for 2012-13 version of her), a second major dental surgery, then her breakout year where she wrecks the field throughout January then tails off... then the major injury, but even then she managed the occasional top 10 ski time. Like Soukalová but even more so (because she didn't emerge out of nowhere, she came from being a junior phenom, disappeared, reappeared, disappeared, reappeared), the fluctuations can be explained at least in part when you know her history, but the inconsistencies and crazy fluctuation in performance are extreme and notable.

Weirdly, given that the Germans are now raising a generation of sharpshooters, a couple of them are XC converts. Preuß picked up a rifle at 15, Vanessa Hinz didn't even do so until 2012!
Makarainen, from a strong XC country, is alone at her level. Norway can fill a women's field all by themselves in XC, but with Berger out they barely have women to field in biathlon.
In fairness, if Solemdal was healthy/consistent they'd look a lot stronger. Not sure what's happened to Hilde Fenne, she looked like a Norwegian version of those super-fast Germans you talk about a couple of years ago, but has stalled.

The French men are awesome skiers in biathlon, much less seem in XC, and their women are only good enough for world cups when they are good shooters. Shipulin makes it look easy while we have not seeen a competitive female Russian skier in biathlon since for forever. And those who gave hope were all taken out by doping or babies.
Olga Vilukhina says hi.

Although her absence is the strangest of them all, since she isn't pregnant and it is apparently not doping-related, she's just taking a year out.
 
Sep 25, 2009
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neineinei said:
Sednev & Bœuf? Or someone else?
the editor of championat poratl is sure that one of the 2 undisclosed positives is loginov's.

this leaves only one of five (most likely the 15/12/2014 suspension) uncertain.

given that IBU called it 'provisional' in the press release AND it was also referred as a separate 'case', it is reasonable to assume it is someone other than the 3 russians already busted.

it is probably quite possible to figure out the remaining culprit, by examining the unexpected dns or a withdrawal in the wc races of the last 2 weeks.

i am too lousy a fan of biathlon to bother ;)
 
python said:
the editor of championat poratl is sure that one of the 2 undisclosed positives is loginov's.

this leaves only one of five (most likely the 15/12/2014 suspension) uncertain.

given that IBU called it 'provisional' in the press release AND it was also referred as a separate 'case', it is reasonable to assume it is someone other than the 3 russians already busted.

it is probably quite possible to figure out the remaining culprit, by examining the unexpected dns or a withdrawal in the wc races of the last 2 weeks.

i am too lousy a fan of biathlon to bother ;)
Loginov's suspension was announced on 27/11, so this would have been straight after the 25/11 date provided. Bœuf's retirement was announced 13/12, effective immediately.

Many of the recent DNS athletes have either been scheduled absences or have raced since the 15/12 cut-off date. One name stands out among them, however.
 
Apr 22, 2012
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Libertine Seguros said:
Well, there's six months' age difference between them, and since the Junior Worlds tends to follow age as of Jan.1, they are in separate year groups. Hence 2009 is Soukalová's first year of juniors, and 2010 is Tiril's first. Because the gap between Eckhoff and Soukalová is 6 months, taking the direct head to head when they would be in separate junior years is no more accurate than taking consecutive years in their development. It would be better if it were a neater figure, like 10 or 11 months, to make the 1 year figure neater, or 2 or 3 months to make the head to head more accurate, because at the junior level the additional experience is more important. In the German system at least, it is done on year of birth, so Vanessa Hinz (March 1992) and Annika Knoll (November 1993) are in consecutive yeargroups, despite there being nearly 2 years between them. I'm a lot more familiar with how the German system operates than I am with the Czech. That's why I went with the separate years in my comparison.

You can also argue that because there is more money and national competition in Norway, that Eckhoff won't have received the same amount of attention from the national coaches as Soukalová would, because they would have more different athletes (including some big stars) to be working with, and a larger number of talents to work on development for. It works both ways; Soukalová, it could be argued, would therefore as a promising junior get more of the coaches' attention in the Czech Republic than Tiril would in Norway, but this is counterbalanced by the greater resources available to the aspiring Norwegian compared to the aspiring Czech.

If I compare to other Norwegians, then in the same or similar age bracket we have Marion Rønning Huber (competing on IBU Cup at present), Bente Landheim (occasional WC entries - born four days after Eckhoff), Kaia Wøien Nicolaisen (who has been outside of the main cadres and only broken through to occasional WC entries this season), Ane Skrove Nossum (who has been in the IBU Cup without looking like becoming a WC talent for about three years now), Marte Olsbu (who has progressed to the fringes of the WC squad over the last two years), Elise Ringen (who had a breakthrough in 2011-12, then a bad year afterwards and has now progressed back to the middle-ranks of the WC) and Synnøve Solemdal (who had a very dramatic and instant breakthrough in 2011, then has had illness and injury blighted seasons, and looks like she may belong in the file with the likes of Svetlana Sleptsova for ridiculous inconsistency) - all are in the 1989-91 file. Those who have broken through young have then had problems (Ringen, Solemdal), while most of the others have built up their roles in the team fairly slowly.

Of the 1990 girls, Eckhoff, Landheim and Olsbu were fairly evenly matched as juniors, but Eckhoff was stronger on the skis in general. In the sprint at Torsby you can see that Eckhoff at least had some potential on the trails - with 3 misses as a first year junior she's 8 seconds shy of Soukalová with 2 in the sprint - although she doesn't set the world alight and falls away over the longer distances. It seems that, like the Russians, there is in general a couple of years between Junior performances and successes being replicated in the World Cup in that generation of Norwegians (as opposed to, say, the Germans and most of the smaller nations, who tend to reward good Junior Worlds performances with World Cup starts immediately). Remember: if Tora Berger retired at the same age Magdalena Neuner did, she would never have even made the podium of a World Cup race. There will always be casualties of the transition from junior to World Cup level too - Juliane Döll pushed Neuner all the way as a junior but couldn't adapt to the pro level at all. With Berger and Flatland being obviously locks in the squad when healthy (Flatland took a baby break of course), Horn being a development project, and the 1989 group including Solemdal and both Ringen sisters (who were useful as juniors, although only Elise has stepped up to the World Cup level), chances at the World Cup level for Eckhoff straight out of juniors may have been more limited than for Soukalová in the Czech squad, which would have less competition for places (but fewer World Cup allocations than the Norwegians to counter this of course).

It's also perhaps worth noting that Eckhoff's brother is her coach at the national level. He probably has a level of familiarity with her, her requirements and how to get the best out of her that most coaches can only dream of. She may also benefit from the family connection in terms of (probably unintended) preference for development at this point in time too, of course.
Nope, I think taking head to head comparison really is more accurate becuase 2010/11 was first regular season in IBU cup for both of them and they both debuted on international level in the same year. Ther was no one year racing margin for Soukalova as you are implying. Hence head to head comparison is okay.
Soukalova didn't get attention of national coaches. Until 2012/13 she was trained by her parents. There was even some problem with national coach, because she wasn't part of the "official training group". Back in that good IBU cup season she wasn't awarded starts in WC as one would expect.
Apparently Eckhoff received more attention than Soukalova from national coaches. One could say that Eckhoff began one year sooner on international scene according your logic thus received more attention from national coaches.
Also except for Berger there were no big women Norwegian stars back then.
 
Kokoso said:
Nope, I think taking head to head comparison really is more accurate becuase 2010/11 was first regular season in IBU cup for both of them and they both debuted on international level in the same year. Ther was no one year racing margin for Soukalova as you are implying. Hence head to head comparison is okay.
Soukalova didn't get attention of national coaches. Until 2012/13 she was trained by her parents. There was even some problem with national coach, because she wasn't part of the "official training group". Back in that good IBU cup season she wasn't awarded starts in WC as one would expect.
Apparently Eckhoff received more attention than Soukalova from national coaches. One could say that Eckhoff began one year sooner on international scene according your logic thus received more attention from national coaches.
Also except for Berger there were no big women Norwegian stars back then.
Why didn't she get attention from the national coaches? Seems bizarre when you have somebody who is, seemingly, that much of a talent.

Ann Kristin Flatland was 16th in the World Cup in 2010-11, and the 1988-9 groups were getting all of the World Cup starts at that point.

Either way, for whatever reason, Eckhoff's rise to the top of the sport has been gradual, with no major improvement; the biggest being the ski speed by a max of 2,5% relative to competition this year (against a weaker skiing field as noted in the article I quoted). Soukalová's results as a junior are comparable, give or take a few months' development (if you give them, as I have done due to different junior years, they are more or less the same; if you take them, as you have done due to similar professional starting point, Eckhoff has developed more slowly), however her rise to the top was much faster, so fast as to be practically instantaneous, however illness and injury affected her progress earlier in her career so that when she was able to reach the World Cup healthy and in form she was already at top strength.

Like I said before, your defense of the likes of Soukalová mean you looked a lot like you were throwing stones out of a glass house when you said Tiril Eckhoff had transformed: compared to Soukalová, she simply hasn't. Soukalová had reasons for the transformation, but the start-point (their junior results) and the end-point (their relative positions in the World Cup field) are pretty comparable.

Given your tendency to be very hesitant about raising any suspicions of your countrymen/women, you have been surprisingly trigger-happy in firing the rifle of suspicion at some athletes for unfair reasons. Pointing at a transformation that not only isn't there, but is there to an equal degree in a Czech athlete you aggressively defend against similar innuendos (Vitková -2,6%, Eckhoff -2,5%), and raising subjects like body shape meaning she can't ski as fast as she does (while we're on the subject, Soukalová's hardly a rail thin Mäkäräinen-type either, so what would that mean for her ski times?), raised my ire. I mean you no harm, however I deliberately raised the comparison to Czech athletes because there, you have followed the backstories and you know the reasons (and/or excuses) - but to an outsider, some of the Czech reversals in fortunes over the last couple of years look a hell of a lot more like a transformation than the things you've been calling out in non-Czech athletes. Soukalová is the easiest comparison because she is the most successful of the girls, she's closest to Eckhoff in age and her route to the top is a much bigger example of a sudden jump to the pinnacle of the sport than the one that you're calling out. And you seem extremely willing to accept or offer excuses for Soukalová, while you were very trigger-happy on attacking Eckhoff and have had to soften your position since as a result.

And if I'm honest, I like Tiril Eckhoff, I don't like Gabriela Soukalová, and I don't like patriotism, so it was inevitable I'd get suckered into an argument with you. At this point in time, we're never going to agree, because I don't think we even know what there is to agree or disagree over, and I'm sure it'll probably flare up again the next time one of the two puts in a good ski time or podiums a race, so shall we call time on this one until Oberhof?
 
Apr 22, 2012
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Libertine Seguros said:
Like I said before, your defense of the likes of Soukalová mean you looked a lot like you were throwing stones out of a glass house when you said Tiril Eckhoff had transformed: compared to Soukalová, she simply hasn't. Soukalová had reasons for the transformation, but the start-point (their junior results) and the end-point (their relative positions in the World Cup field) are pretty comparable.

Given your tendency to be very hesitant about raising any suspicions of your countrymen/women, you have been surprisingly trigger-happy in firing the rifle of suspicion at some athletes for unfair reasons. Pointing at a transformation that not only isn't there, but is there to an equal degree in a Czech athlete you aggressively defend against similar innuendos (Vitková -2,6%, Eckhoff -2,5%), and raising subjects like body shape meaning she can't ski as fast as she does (while we're on the subject, Soukalová's hardly a rail thin Mäkäräinen-type either, so what would that mean for her ski times?), raised my ire. I mean you no harm, however I deliberately raised the comparison to Czech athletes because there, you have followed the backstories and you know the reasons (and/or excuses) - but to an outsider, some of the Czech reversals in fortunes over the last couple of years look a hell of a lot more like a transformation than the things you've been calling out in non-Czech athletes. Soukalová is the easiest comparison because she is the most successful of the girls, she's closest to Eckhoff in age and her route to the top is a much bigger example of a sudden jump to the pinnacle of the sport than the one that you're calling out. And you seem extremely willing to accept or offer excuses for Soukalová, while you were very trigger-happy on attacking Eckhoff and have had to soften your position since as a result.

And if I'm honest, I like Tiril Eckhoff, I don't like Gabriela Soukalová, and I don't like patriotism, so it was inevitable I'd get suckered into an argument with you. At this point in time, we're never going to agree, because I don't think we even know what there is to agree or disagree over, and I'm sure it'll probably flare up again the next time one of the two puts in a good ski time or podiums a race, so shall we call time on this one until Oberhof?
I'm missing something probably. Do I raise any suspicion about Eckhoff or any other athlete? No, I'm not. So what this reaction of yours is about? You wrote it before, we settled that, you write it again. I'm looking at what I wrote, than on your reaction and I'm like...what are you reacting on? :confused: Really don't understand you now,you're completely ignoring what I've said before.
I'll write factually and I'm saying again that Soukalova was faster than Eckhoff despite beginning later, her results are better than Eckhoff's. I don't know why there wasn't attention of national coaches (or better say there was even some disliking). Presumably because she wasn't part of official training group but I don't that for sure. I agree with you - Soukalova didn't transform, she was great from the beginning and just continued in that after ilness.
I don't like patriotism either and I'm certainly not the one to be called patriot.
I don't know why you dislike Soukalova (I don't like her either btw.) but I can see you are biased towards her.But I don't call that nationalism, it sounds too much for me.
 
Apr 22, 2012
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Libertine Seguros said:
Given your tendency to be very hesitant about raising any suspicions of your countrymen/women, you have been surprisingly trigger-happy in firing the rifle of suspicion at some athletes for unfair reasons.
I'm not hesitant to be suspicious about Czechs. I've said Soukup is suspicious already after Sochi and said that again couple of weeks ago here.
Anyway Landertinger's falls and raises of form are suspect for you too so I suppose you agree with me on that (even if I've said that in wrong time). So the only other athlete you are talking of is Eckhoff and I've change my mind on her (what you are ingoring from unknown reason). Talking about that I'm easy to suspect for unfair reasons is of the way thus.
 
Kokoso said:
I'm missing something probably. Do I raise any suspicion about Eckhoff or any other athlete? No, I'm not. So what this reaction of yours is about? You wrote it before, we settled that, you write it again. I'm looking at what I wrote, than on your reaction and I'm like...what are you reacting on? :confused: Really don't understand you now,you're completely ignoring what I've said before.
Could be some language barrier issues. Certainly back from Östersund/Hochfilzen it seemed like you were really calling Eckhoff out, and given your history of being very defensive when Czech athletes have been questioned, I've taken exception to that.
I'll write factually and I'm saying again that Soukalova was faster than Eckhoff despite beginning later, her results are better than Eckhoff's. I don't know why there wasn't attention of national coaches (or better say there was even some disliking). Presumably because she wasn't part of official training group but I don't that for sure. I agree with you - Soukalova didn't transform, she was great from the beginning and just continued in that after ilness.
My interpretation is that she DID transform, but you have outlined plausible reasons for this and therefore I am willing to cast aside the transformation stigma that attaches to athletes like, say, Solemdal, to a great extent. I still don't see a super-good junior in Soukalová compared to Eckhoff, but both of them are in comparable places in the World Cup now, so comparable to begin with, comparable to finish imo.
I don't like patriotism either and I'm certainly not the one to be called patriot.
I don't know why you dislike Soukalova (I don't like her either btw.) but I can see you are biased towards her.But I don't call that nationalism, it sounds too much for me.
I steered clear of calling it nationalism, because that's something else far more insidious to me than patriotism. I tried to couch it in careful terms to avoid insult because calling somebody a nationalist is, to me, highly insulting, while patriotic implies a sense of (possibly false) pride. However, because you have now on a number of occasions been very defensive of Czech athletes despite what are, to my eyes, comparable situations to those that you have been critical of athletes of other countries for, I suspect I saw patriotism where it was not intended and jumped down your neck about what I perceived as double standards.

Soukalová is a strange one, because from most accounts she seems to be quite personable, approachable, and until relatively recently humble (I think it was you yourself who said she seems to have got a bit big for her boots recently). But I've never been able to warm to her even earlier on in her career, I can't put my finger on quite why but there's something about her that just doesn't sit right with me.
 
Kokoso said:
I'm not hesitant to be suspicious about Czechs. I've said Soukup is suspicious already after Sochi and said that again couple of weeks ago here.
Anyway Landertinger's falls and raises of form are suspect for you too so I suppose you agree with me on that (even if I've said that in wrong time). So the only other athlete you are talking of is Eckhoff and I've change my mind on her (what you are ingoring from unknown reason). Talking about that I'm easy to suspect for unfair reasons is of the way thus.
It was more that you said Landertinger was suspicious for his form (which had not improved as he had been top 10 of every race since Christmas) and did not mention Soukup at all until prompted by others. Roundabout called you out on it, because you were celebrating what a great guy he was and how great it was that he got a medal at the same time as attacking Landertinger's sudden gain in form (as we now seem to be agreed on, Landertinger is suspicious as all hell, but there was no sudden gain in form at the Olympics, so I agree with your suspicion but disagree with your reasoning). Similarly, when I did my list of each country and why there are factors that make them suspicious, and mitigating factors, you took pains to refute all of the factors of suspicion regarding the Czechs (except Soukup's Maksimov-like rise). Perhaps part of that is simply access to the backstory, and maybe I'm seeing something that isn't there because we got off on the wrong foot on that front because of my questioning Soukalová back in 2012 at the same time as Moravec made Fourcade look like a fool in Pokljuka (which later proved to be my mistake as it was Fourcade doing uncharacteristically badly, not Moravec doing uncharacteristically well).
 

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