Doping in XC skiing

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Many wrongs in your post. Nandrolone is to be found natural in humans. Nandrolone is a testosterone derivative... Read it again.
Nandrolone is (presumedly) naturally found in humans in miniscule amounts, therefore there is a low threshold, correct.

Nandrolone (and every steroid since Dianabol) is a testosterone derivative, correct.

But I read it again. Despite using the term "steroid" and "testosterone derivatives" etc, it is about how microdosing testosterone affects T/E ratio (usually 1:1) so little that most of the microdosing with T goes under radar. The premise of the article is summarised in the following sentence:

"But testosterone microdoses may escape regulators' radar because they only stay in the system for minutes or hours."

Nothing about "real" steroids that (if anything) lower T/E-ratio by suppressing thd production of natural testosterone. I get the impression that the author doesn't know that testing anabolic steroids in urine has nothing to do with the T/E - ratio.
 
Nandrolone is (presumedly) naturally found in humans in miniscule amounts, therefore there is a low threshold, correct.

Nandrolone (and every steroid since Dianabol) is a testosterone derivative, correct.

But I read it again. Despite using the term "steroid" and "testosterone derivatives" etc, it is about how microdosing testosterone affects T/E ratio (usually 1:1) so little that most of the microdosing with T goes under radar. The premise of the article is summarised in the following sentence:

"But testosterone microdoses may escape regulators' radar because they only stay in the system for minutes or hours."

Nothing about "real" steroids that (if anything) lower T/E-ratio by suppressing thd production of natural testosterone. I get the impression that the author doesn't know that testing anabolic steroids in urine has nothing to do with the T/E - ratio.
Aragon, I get your point about that testosterone is better suited for microdosing. However, Nandrolone is still very much in use and in 2019 it made up 11% of the AAFs reported to WADA involving anabolic steroids. To me it seems unexplicable that the Norwegian team doctors wouldn't have warned that the use of Primulat-N could cause AAFs, expecially since the Swedish sports federation as early as 2010 went public with a warning.

Let me give an alterantive perspective. Let's hypothetically assume that the two female top skiers (the outliers) in the Norwegian team, with the help from a shady team doctor decided to go down the enhancement alley. The strategy was to use stereoids where a solid scape goat was at hand if caught. They decided to use the good old out of fashion Clostebol where the Trofodermin ointment would do the work if caught. When one of the two outliers was caught in september 2016 they had to go with another alternative with the grand ol' lady. If caught with heightened levels of testosteron, no plausible explanation to give. With Nandrolone, both pig meat and Primulat-N pills would work as scape goat. https://www.sportsintegrityinitiative.com/have-you-heard-of-nandrolone/

While claiming "I am not defending Norwegians, and IIRC, even Dr. Jim Stray-Gundersen (of Norwegian origin) didn't defend the Norwegians when he reviewed their HB-data in 2018 for the Swedish media" you sure seem quite eager to find whatever supports Marit.
 
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It is strange indeed of Bjørgen to come out with the Primolut-n story now. A quick google search shows that a Kenyan marathon runner got 4 years suspension after getting caught with the same substance, and giving the same explanation. She had forgotten to tell about the primolut medicine in her pre race declaration.

Although I have faith in Bjørgen, it shows the importance of a big team, and how having filled out the correct forms make the difference between hero and zero in some sports, which is actually not ok.
 
It is strange indeed of Bjørgen to come out with the Primolut-n story now. A quick google search shows that a Kenyan marathon runner got 4 years suspension after getting caught with the same substance, and giving the same explanation. She had forgotten to tell about the primolut medicine in her pre race declaration.

Although I have faith in Bjørgen, it shows the importance of a big team, and how having filled out the correct forms make the difference between hero and zero in some sports, which is actually not ok.
You have faith in Bjørgen not doping? :tearsofjoy:
 
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Let me give an alterantive perspective. Let's hypothetically assume that the two female top skiers (the outliers) in the Norwegian team, with the help from a shady team doctor decided to go down the enhancement alley. The strategy was to use stereoids where a solid scape goat was at hand if caught. They decided to use the good old out of fashion Clostebol where the Trofodermin ointment would do the work if caught. When one of the two outliers was caught in september 2016 they had to go with another alternative with the grand ol' lady. If caught with heightened levels of testosteron, no plausible explanation to give. With Nandrolone, both pig meat and Primulat-N pills would work.

While claiming "I am not defending Norwegians, and IIRC, even Dr. Jim Stray-Gundersen (of Norwegian origin) didn't defend the Norwegians when he reviewed their HB-data in 2018 for the Swedish media" you sure seem quite eager to find whatever supports Marit.
It would be interesting to know if there exists any data on how succesful the "pig meat"-defence has been in the past or whether Primolut-N or pig meat can account for presence of any of the nandrolone metabolites (there exists more of them than the one present in Bjørgen's urine).

To summarise in Oxford-style why I don't find anything overtly suspicious in the 2017 case:

1) There is nothing debunking the narrative that she took the incident into public voluntarily knowing that her presumably favourable treatment would draw some attention. If it was a coverup, this would be sheer stupidity. Had the origin of the story in the media been someone else, the situation would've been completely different.

2) Only her last sample (apparently) was positive for a relatively easily detectable steroid. It was not trace amounts remaining after a miscalculated glow time from a steroid patch/microdose she took weeks before the 2017 Games. Had the positive taken place in the first doping test, again the situation would've been completely different.

While some cyclists have (presumably) microdosed steroids during the multiday stage races, even one proven case of someone consuming nandrolone shortly before an almost 100 % certain doping test would help your hypothesis or someone testing positive during a stage race / Championships after having tested negative a few days earlier. And again, testosterone is by a magnitude more difficult to detect, no explanation for presence in a test because it won't come back us a positive.

About who I defend and who I don't -- whether I generally think that there is something suspicious in the Norwegian XC-skiing miracle is one question, whether I think that Marit Bjørgen is a doper another one, and whether I consider the 2017 incident suspicious is yet another one. There is no tribalistic reason to see them as answer all in positive or negative.

That having been written, I do think that she is on general level suspicious as hell.
 
Elvira Oeberg - most spectacular improvement ever?
Elvira is only 22 and she got multiple medals at the WC in the junior ranks (3 Gold medals in 2018, if you count the relay). I'd say it's nothing out of this world.
L T Hauser's skiing times suddenly going through the roof in 2020/21 is IMO more worthy of note. At least with Norway you can say that they have enough talented skiers and they have poached top shooting coaches fom the French (on the Men's side) and the Italian (on the Women's side (Wierer was not happy about loosing Oberegger to them).
 
Elvira is only 22 and she got multiple medals at the WC in the junior ranks (3 Gold medals in 2018, if you count the relay). I'd say it's nothing out of this world.
L T Hauser's skiing times suddenly going through the roof in 2020/21 is IMO more worthy of note. At least with Norway you can say that they have enough talented skiers and they have poached top shooting coaches fom the French (on the Men's side) and the Italian (on the Women's side (Wierer was not happy about loosing Oberegger to them).
I did some search on https://www.realbiathlon.com/ today and still think Oeberg's improvement is quite spectacular:

Hauser compared to the median athlete's skiing time (age in brackets):
13/14: +1.6% (19-20)
14/15: +2.1% (20-21)
15/16: +1.2% (21-22)
16/17: -0.1% (22-23)
17/18: +0.3% (23-24)
18/19: -0.4% (24-25)
19/20: -0.3% (25-26)
20/21: -2.8% (26-27) - breakthrough year

E. Oeberg compared to the median athlete's skiing time:

19/20: -0.6% (20-21)
20/21: -2.4% (21-22)
21/22: -8.3% (22-23)

What probably needs to be considered - the Swedes already did the same last year. Started off super fast as a whole but faded later in the season. So maybe the better comparison is the one to early races last year:

E. Oeberg compared to the median athlete's skiing time in the first season trimester:
20/21: -4.0%
21/22: -8.3%

So while I agree that Hauser's improvement of 2.5% in skiing speed is a lot (as mirrored by her results) at elite level, the same needs to be said for Oeberg's 5.9% (season) or 4.3% (first trimester) improvement. I rarely have seen something like this before. Maybe never (as I said). In Oeberg's favour: her age, her talent from early on. But I would even hope for her that she will not keep that level, tbh. She never had the best skiing time before. Now in 3 races, she did it 3 times. With huge margins. But lets see. Its just a jump in the data I noticed. I obviously have no other insights and don't want to accuse her of wrongdoing based only on data. Thats always a rather lame reason in my opinion. Will follow the development of those numbers closely though. And if I would have to bet, I would say she can't keep it up. The level is so high, however, that she might still do really well.
 
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Dec 4, 2021
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I did some search on https://www.realbiathlon.com/ today and still think Oeberg's improvement is quite spectacular:


E. Oeberg compared to the median athlete's skiing time in the first season trimester:
20/21: -4.0%
21/22: -8.3%
2021: All three races in your sample had 110+ athletes.
2020: Only five out of nine races had more than 60 athletes and one had 30.

Meaning, in all of the 2021 races, you are comparing Elvira's performance to a ski time outside the top 55, but in close to half of the 2020 races, you are comparing her performance to the 30th or 15th ski time. This error leads you to overestimate her year-on-year improvement by a couple of percent.

Let's compare apples to apples instead:

Back from Top10 median ski time (in %):

Sprint
First trimester 20/21 (4 races): -0.63%
21/22 (2 races): -2.80%
Diff: 2.17%

Individual
20/21 (1 race): -0.06%
21/22 (1): -2.91%
Diff: 2.85%

Pursuit
20/21 (3): +0.41%
21/22 (1): -1.64%
Diff: 2.05%

Back from Top30 median ski time (in %):

Sprint
20/21 (4): -2.23%
21/22 (2): -4.20%
Diff: 1.97%

Individual
20/21 (1): -1.38%
21/22 (1): -4.59%
Diff: 3.21%

Pursuit
20/21 (3): -0.86%
21/22 (1): -3.16%
Diff: 2.3%
 
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2021: All three races in your sample had 110+ athletes.
2020: Only five out of nine races had more than 60 athletes and one had 30.

Meaning, in all of the 2021 races, you are comparing Elvira's performance to a ski time outside the top 55, but in close to half of the 2020 races, you are comparing her performance to the 30th or 15th ski time. This error leads you to overestimate her year-on-year improvement by a couple of percent.

Let's compare apples to apples instead:

Back from Top10 median ski time (in %):

Sprint
First trimester 20/21 (4 races): -0.63%
21/22 (2 races): -2.80%
Diff: 2.17%

Individual
20/21 (1 race): -0.06%
21/22 (1): -2.91%
Diff: 2.85%

Pursuit
20/21 (3): +0.41%
21/22 (1): -1.64%
Diff: 2.05%

Back from Top30 median ski time (in %):

Sprint
20/21 (4): -2.23%
21/22 (2): -4.20%
Diff: 1.97%

Individual
20/21 (1): -1.38%
21/22 (1): -4.59%
Diff: 3.21%

Pursuit
20/21 (3): -0.86%
21/22 (1): -3.16%
Diff: 2.3%
You are right. Fair point, actually. Still a rather huge improvement (so far).
 

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