Pazuzu said:Maybe I'm naive, but I tend to belive Daehlie, Alsgaard & the rest were able to be successful skiing paniagua. Through better ski prep, superior technique, smart altitude training, and use of 'altitude tents' (which was allowable) - they were able to compete successfully against their doped competitors.
Keep in mind Tyler Hamilton stated that in the EPO era it was still possible for clean riders to beat doped riders in one day classic events. But it was the grand tours - day after day of grinding it out - that it was impossible for a clean rider to beat his doped competitors. Back in the 90s then there was no 'Tour de Ski' as there is now.
In cycling, team tactics, drafting and flat courses allow riders who may not have the highest V02Max to win. Mike Cavendish and Thor Hushovd are both world champions, yet get dropped from the lead group on all mountain stages.
Cross-country skiing places a higher demand on V02Max than other sports due to the use of both arms & legs - and the time-trial (interval start) format used in the 1990's meant you had to go 100% from the get-go. The easiest way to get your V02Max up? More red blood cells. Easiest way to do that? EPO.
Altitude tents are still allowed and the latest research suggests it will yield only minimal benefits - and has several drawbacks: sleep / rest is affected and short stays in altitude or altitude tents will actually lower performance as the body's first reaction is to increase Hb by decreasing plasma. To raise your blood values significantly enough to make a difference in performance requires a permanent stay of 3 weeks or more in altitude.