Doping in XC skiing

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Today's Kusaamo classic 10km pursuit.
5 Norwegian women among the 7 fastest for the the day.
8 in the top-18.

I am getting increasingly uncomfortable by their collective powers.

I have said before, as a fan I don't like Bjoergen. She wins by too great a margins.
But I absolutely adore Therese Johaug, and she actually set a better pursuit time, getting the day's win.

In marathon running, we say that running is in the kenyan's culture, and they desperately need the money. Norway may have the ultimate XC culture, but even with the biathletes staying away this weekend, they just rule. Oh, and they're the richest country in the world pretty much.

Okay, Bjoergen is looking a bit less unpleasant in post-race interviews this time. Sort of cute almost. I just can't accept her overwhelming performances. And then her country is even overwhelming compared all other competition!
Kolwackzyk was toasted by over a minute. Kikkan Randall lost 1'35, and that was even a really good result for her, holding on to 6th overall.
Is the rest of the world making a laugh out of XC, or are Norway doing something vitally different? A minute is supposed to be a lot over 10km. Only Saarinen and Kalla managed to stay within a minute (but over 50s) of Johaug, with the other Norwegians losing just 8s and 25s.

This is crazier than the Dutch men's performances in Speed Skating! (and I am Dutch, mind you).
 
Jul 19, 2010
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Too few women have the ressources, traditions and infrastructure(i.e. geography, climate) to get involved and compete with a million dollar investing country(Norway). I guess they have more depth to breed the right talents, at least among women. They said themselves after friday´s race, that their dominating results were bad for the sport.

Kowalczyk is still training hard as she usually does(training base conditioning until december), and is a month away(tour de ski) from her peak I guess.

EDIT: Btw, Kowalczyk forgot her asthma medicin in Poland this weekend...that´s why...
 
Yes, I'm a bit uncomfortable with the Norwegians' dominance as well. In addition to the obvious clinic related reasons that might be involved, however, I would wager that the dominance can be partially explained by the fact that they have to taper and peak a bit at the beginning of the season just to make it to the national team. I think somebody pointed this out already, but no harm in repeating it.

Whereas JK, Saarinen etc have been doing tough training all along. Kalla was really good in freestyle too, looks like she has been bulking up muscle a bit. So, despite the situation now, I do expect the gap to narrow down during the month before tour de ski.

Don't know if the same situation applies to men though. The Norwegians do dominate, but it appears less dramatic since there are fewer super performers.

Also, as Oneracewonder pointed out, the sheer amount of resources - talented skiing population, money (plus a really high GDP so people can afford doing sport stuff), know-how, even ideology that promotes skiing/sports - that Norway has is bound to produce results. This is really important IMO.
 
And, those resources are spread out over only 2 million Norwegian women, all in total :)

Another point, Norway is apparently (read that somewhere) the country with the most male/female equality. It's supposedly inappropriate to hold the door for your lady date. She can darn well open it herself, thankyouverymuch.
This cultural position of the woman may mean that the #1 sport in the country (skiing) is taken on much more seriously than it would be in a more traditional man-ruled society. For instance Kenian female runners. There are a few good ones, but not like the men. In terms of performances and depth they're not recognized as the same country.

Perhaps it all adds up.
You wonder though, as this is not a novely situation for the NO women, why would they never be beaten by a doping special? Doping makes such a huge impact on XC performance, it's not even funny.
Then the cultural advantage the Norwegian women hold must be greater than the effect of doping. That's hard to believe. Although it would be great if it were.
It's not like The French are winning their own races anymore?

A last idea I got is that doping prevention may in fact be improving in XC.
Whatever the Norwegians are alleged to do, they can hold on to that the longest. The more amateur dopers (Russia for instance) are getting less and less elbow space to work with. You better bring a super-pro program, or quit the sport. You are going to be caught, with high probability.
If the NO women were always clean, tighter doping is good for them. If they are doping, we never found out about it, so they must be ultra-professional, or have bought (they're rich enough for it) the authorities.

I love how Kowalckzyk skis. The rough technique, the sheer force. So Gunda Niemann. Yes, there have been recent doping cases in Poland. Shady trainers "helping" their greatest talents wit "vitamins shots".
She's such an obvious supertalent. Not having the NO resources, or even a lot of home snow for that matter. And you'd think the FIS surely targeted her if anyone though it was stinky.

I know Randall worked on her poling, but her progress this year is impressive. No reason to hold any American above suspicion (I am in face a fan of KR), but if she's been racing clean all the time, tighter controls would help her a bit as well. Opens things up nicely, just behind the podium spots.
 
Excellent post, Cloxxki! The equality or, dare I say, feminist viewpoint you raised is indeed an important one. In the grand scheme of things, it is probably worth a slightly better "program" alone. Also, it is one that I myself like to consider a huge milestone - I cannot see such a thing happening anywhere else to such an extent. Not even in Sweden or Finland - though the reason is probably at last partially the fact that NO are crazier about wintersport than we or the Swedes are. But yeah, sure the Finnish lady skiers are also appreciated, but there is still a qualitative difference between that and NO support.

In fact, I often find ladies' races more interesting than men's. Dunno why really, but it's just so. Perhaps because they are in the schedule.

Johaug is my fave. I love mountain goats in cycling and thus she is the obvious choice. Also I'm a weakling myself, so as Freud would probably say I must get some comfort when she beats stronger athletes :DDD Also I find it interesting that she has to constantly beat her own physical attributes when racing against bigger skiers with more sheer force.

As for Kowalczyk, her stamina is really amazing. I remember Punkkinen saying in Finnish TV that she must have the biggest engine among female skiers. Can't really argue with that. If only she had the efficiency of the best, then I think she would probably crush everyone everywhere and everywhen.

p.s.

Dunno if this is the proper thread, but I've skied more than 100km in the last three days. It's awesome to be back on the skis again.
 
meat puppet said:
Dunno if this is the proper thread, but I've skied more than 100km in the last three days. It's awesome to be back on the skis again.
Such a good post, and you make me hate you in the PS... ;-)

I managed 10 days on home snow last year, and that was an amazing record.
Need me to work for you as a floor sweeper or typist? I'll move north without a hesitation!
 
Trond Vidar said:
That's how his name is pronounced? No wonder he's so popular!

BTW, the OEB emphasis in the media on his technical focus may be as true as for anyone. Like LA was supposedly working with great training innovations, like the high cadence. We saw him do it. We see OEB come with his own suits. I used to be a sucker for this kind of thing, but the painful reality has made me sceptical.
 
Cloxxki said:
That's how his name is pronounced? No wonder he's so popular!

BTW, the OEB emphasis in the media on his technical focus may be as true as for anyone. Like LA was supposedly working with great training innovations, like the high cadence. We saw him do it. We see OEB come with his own suits. I used to be a sucker for this kind of thing, but the painful reality has made me sceptical.
Bjoerndalen has an amazing tecnique, probably doped to the grills, but amazing to look at
 
Oct 1, 2010
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Cloxxki said:
BTW, the OEB emphasis in the media on his technical focus may be as true as for anyone.
Nah, this guy is a freak. There hasn't been a single Norwegian skier for the past 20 years who has been paying nearly as much attention to every single detail as mr. Bear Valley. Borderline Asperger's... :p
 
Feb 4, 2010
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Cloxxki said:
That's how his name is pronounced? No wonder he's so popular!

BTW, the OEB emphasis in the media on his technical focus may be as true as for anyone. Like LA was supposedly working with great training innovations, like the high cadence. We saw him do it. We see OEB come with his own suits. I used to be a sucker for this kind of thing, but the painful reality has made me sceptical.
Well, with skiing, technique is much more important than it is in cycling. Take two guys of equal fitness, one has great technique and the other doesn't there'll be a difference, but it won't be huge. In skiing, a technically superior skier will leave a more fit skier way behind.
 
To a certain extent technique is critical, but take two skiers with relatively similar technical ability and aerobic capacity will win 90% of the time. Technical gains are incremental - but the engine is the engine
 
Cloxxki said:
Such a good post, and you make me hate you in the PS... ;-)

I managed 10 days on home snow last year, and that was an amazing record.
Need me to work for you as a floor sweeper or typist? I'll move north without a hesitation!
I'll give you twice the reason to hate me: at the moment I'm a student and on vacation. :D I live in central Finland at the moment but my intention is to land a teaching job up north next year once I graduate. We'll see.

This winter seems lousy though. There's only some 15cm of snow up north. Last year I was skiing on home tracks by November and the winter was stark (-15 to -30 centigrade) from then on.

But yeah, if you're serious, I think ski centres all over Scandinavia do hire rather high quantities of seasonal workers - and it appears that your language skills wouldn't hurt you. Many tourists come from Japan, Russia, China, Central Europe, GB, etc...

Re: technique - I think it plays a significant role even among the top athletes. Especially in mass start / sprint races where the finishing strait or the final km is slightly downhill. Case in point Hellner's victories in the Vancouver olympic games and Oslo WC.

A technically good skier will gain time per se and recovery time over the easier sections and she might be able to tackle the hard parts with less intense effort.

Then again anyone can dig up Muhlegg's 30k victory from Salt Lake City 2002 to counter my point. Were on the clinic after all.
 
Emil Hegle Svendsen, the best biathlon athlete the last 2 years, says he hasn't been tested in 7 months...the anti-doping guys answer that they have been focusing on testing the Russians etc.
 
maltiv said:
Emil Hegle Svendsen, the best biathlon athlete the last 2 years, says he hasn't been tested in 7 months...the anti-doping guys answer that they have been focusing on testing the Russians etc.
Oh my, that's bad. The Russian are easier targets for sure, with their outdated programs. That shouldn't give other nations comfort that they'll rarely be tested!
That is ZERO OoC testing between seasons. Imagine what you could do if you'd know this beforehand? Come on, 7 months of artificial muscle building, fat burning, cell rejuvenating, gene therapie, blood harvesting.......
Almost makes you wonder whyn you'd train at all.
 
Gee, seven months, that's much! Okay, they are targeting the Russians. However, can we generalise though that biathletes are typically tested less than XC-skiers? It would be tempting, given Svendsen's status and the seven month testing hiatus...

Im using Aino-Kaisa Saarinen as a reference here, since she publishes her test schedule and what was tested (no details or data though) - more than 10 tests since april this year already as the link shows.
 
meat puppet said:
Gee, seven months, that's much! Okay, they are targeting the Russians. However, can we generalise though that biathletes are typically tested less than XC-skiers? It would be tempting, given Svendsen's status and the seven month testing hiatus...

Im using Aino-Kaisa Saarinen as a reference here, since she publishes her test schedule and what was tested (no details or data though) - more than 10 tests since april this year already as the link shows.
Marit Bjørgen also said last year that she wasn't tested ooc at all prior to the world championships.
 
meat puppet said:
Well, then Saarinen might be among the targeted athletes because 8/11 of her tests since april have been during the training season. (I believe OoC means out of competition, no?)
Targeting is great, but apparently not very effective. Our counter-effective, if whole nations (ruling the sport) can rest assured to not be tested all their off-season.
I dare bet that even Saarinen isn't even tested for blood each time. Which is more interesting that urine at this level of endurance sports, I'd say.

Is the Norwegian union so lazy, don't they want to keep their own athletes "sharp"?
Lack of suspicion shouldn't go too far. Testing a living levend such as Svendsen is also about respect, to your own sport, the fans, the legend himself, and all those challenging him.
 
Cloxxki said:
I dare bet that even Saarinen isn't even tested for blood each time. Which is more interesting that urine at this level of endurance sports, I'd say.
We only have her word, of course, but going by the webpage 7/11 appear to have been blood and urine ("veri + virtsa") and 1/11 was blood screening. ie. biopassport I'd guess. The remaining 3/11 only tested urine.
 
Mar 4, 2010
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LouieLouie said:
This has nothing to do with the Norwegian union. Who to test is a UBI decision.
Of course it does! What the hell is Anti-Doping Norway supposed to do if not testing their best athletes? :rolleyes:
 
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