Doping in XC skiing

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Mar 4, 2010
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MustIski said:
Tapio Wideman and Ingard Leirem collected and analyzed skiers' blood samples from late 80's to 2002. Leirem has said that no Nordic (swedish, norwegian or finnish) skiers used epo in 1990's. Neither they used blood doping. According to Leirem the blood samples collected so no sigs of blood doping. He especially mentioned that Marjo Matinkainen's blood samples so no signs of autologous blood doping.

http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=fi&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=fi&tl=en&u=http://yle.fi/urheilu/lajit/hiihtolajit/hiihto/2008/10/lereim_matikainen-kallstrom_ei_kayttanyt_epoa_1316358.html

I find Leirem's statements hard to believe. For example Mika Myllylä has admitted using epo during his career. And also the blood samples were collected after competitions. Skiers were not tested during off season or during training camps in high altitude. Out of competition testing was very rare for long time.
He has to be lying! Several finns have admitted EPO use in that time period and we know they were close to the Hb limit. Virpi Kuitunen was even over it once.
 
May 23, 2010
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Tyler'sTwin said:
The only thing that matters is the increase in O2 carriers. The method used to achieve it is irrelevant from a performance perspective.

I think Mühlegg might have been on HBOC's or PFC in additon to having a ridiculous Hb mass. Plus the course and the conditions suited him perfectly. He was already a lot better than previously when returning to the sport in -99, competing for Spain, and had been suspicious before Salt Lake.
Besides boosting red blood cell production, EPO is believed to help increase the oxygen transfer from blood to tissue - via boosting an enzyme called 2,3 DPG. Some believe this is why EPO is effective so soon after a dose has been administered - and why micro-dosing is proven to be effective, even as it does increase Hb and Hkr measurably. The longer term benefit from micro-dosing is blood volume boost - which is the only gain from taking in an extra blood bag (unless you've packed red blood cells)...
 
Mar 4, 2010
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Tubeless said:
Besides boosting red blood cell production, EPO is believed to help increase the oxygen transfer from blood to tissue - via boosting an enzyme called 2,3 DPG. Some believe this is why EPO is effective so soon after a dose has been administered - and why micro-dosing is proven to be effective, even as it does increase Hb and Hkr measurably. The longer term benefit from micro-dosing is blood volume boost - which is the only gain from taking in an extra blood bag (unless you've packed red blood cells)...
I did not know that, but nevertheless, I doubt that Mühlegg was the only EPO doper in Salt Lake and that the huge gulf in performance can be explained by different levels of 2,3 DPG.

Are there any studies showing that micro-dosing EPO can improve performance significantly without causing a measurable increase in RBC mass?
 
May 19, 2010
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Alpe d'Huez said:
Excellent posts on this thread. Another big XC ski person here. Back years ago I was into it more than cycling. This past Olympics had some very exciting races that helped boost the sport I think.

Before the Vancouver Olympics Justin Wadsworth said there was probably 100% doping use at one time or another in XC skiing. And he was a coach of the US team! But he seemed to believe it was at least cleaner than in years past. While XC Skiing has had many doping issues, but it does seem to at least be a little more controlled, and not nearly as directly complicit as the UCI. Not saying much, but at least it's something.

Those who have never competed in XC skiing should watch the first 1:30 of this video. The climb up Val di Flemme shows just how grueling it is. If you miss the days where cyclists fell off their bikes with exhaustion compared the the fresh-as-a-daisy days they have now, you'll love this.

Johann Mühlegg came up hot for Darbepoetin, which at the time was so new it wasn't even on the banned list. Initially the IOC let it slide, but CAS ruled against ALL of his medal wins. What was so ironic about that year is that while it's likely several of those he beat were doped, he was so jacked it completely ruined the events.
To be fair it must be said that there is nothing in cross country skiing anything like the last day of Tour de Ski, and Tour de Ski didn't start until 2007. There was no climbing anything like that in any cross country skiing event before 2007, and the last day of Tour de Ski is now the only event with that kind of climbing.
 
May 23, 2010
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Tyler'sTwin said:
I did not know that, but nevertheless, I doubt that Mühlegg was the only EPO doper in Salt Lake and that the huge gulf in performance can be explained by different levels of 2,3 DPG.

Are there any studies showing that micro-dosing EPO can improve performance significantly without causing a measurable increase in RBC mass?
The race in question, 2002 Olympics 30km freestyle, is a good comparison between the two blood doping methods - EPO and autologous blood doping (I am assuming here that Hoffman and Botvinov got a blood boosting bag a day or two before the 30km).

All doped medalists would have bee subjected to the Hb limit test (17.0 g/L) and passed it, meaning Hb levels were likely not very different. It's not known how much extra blood the Austrians doped with - it's unlikely they would have brought blood over from home in a bag on a plane, but could have have gotten a blood transfusion just before leaving Austria, and immediately upon arrival in US drawn the blood back to store it, allow body to recreate some new blood - and then reinfuse the blood just before the race.

So the Austrians would have had a sizable boost in overall blood volume. Muehlegg was not micro-dosing EPO (as he got caught), but had to stay within the Hb test limits - so he was likely on it for a while at a steady level and got a measurable boost in overall blood volume as well.

So both Muehlegg and Hoffman & Bovinov would have had similar Hb levels, and likely simiarly boosted overall blood volume. Note that you can only boost blood volume to a point before the body starts reducing plasma to allow it to handle the artificially increased extra volume - this would trigger an increase in Hb and would likely cause the skier to be prevented to start the race.

But there was such a big difference in race performance (over 2 mins) that one has to tip EPO to have some other benefit as well. There are no formal studies that I am aware of to differentiate the various physiological changes from EPO - but I've seen several articles that suggest the 2,3 DPG enzyme boost may play a bigger role than previously known. That change is believed to be quick, almost immediate - which may help explain why e.g. Armstrong's 1999 sample analysis suggested he had gotten a big EPO injection very close to the start of the opening prolog, red blood cell production boost is known to take longer than just a day or two to make a measurable difference in performance (e.g. altitude training effect).
 
Sep 22, 2009
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Some more information on Marjo Matikainen and finnish skiing in the 1980s, this is one part of the wild claims Kari-Pekka Kyrö has made recently and files from a recent STT court case as explained before in this thread: (my translation of one newspaper article)


Pekka Vähäsöyrinki was the head skiing coach of Finland 1985-89. His "product" and the biggest star was female Olympic gold winner Marjo Matikainen. Blood doping and testosterone was fundamental at the time.

A former finnish female skier Erja Kuivalainen has been offered the use of doping by Vähäsöyrinki in the mid 1980's and said she refused. Another female skier Jaana Savolainen claims he was approached by Vähäsöyrinki who said: "Are you ready(also translates to: willing) to lose your femininity?" Jaana did not completely understand but still refused.

Back to Marjo Matikainen. Kyrö said the impression he got from Matikainen was a typical example of a blood doping athlete. The way her results changed, the way she was middle of-the-pack in small races (finnish nats) and then strangely added 5% in her performance in the biggest events (worlds/olympics) revealed that all of her success was bought with drugs and blood doping.

Erja Kuivalainen claimed he saw an EPO bottle(vial?) at a training camp in Sodankylä on her roommate Matikainen's desk in 1988.

it all paints an ugly picture on Vähäsöyrinki and skiing in general, very disgusting!!
 
More excellent posts here guys. I'm learning a lot too. Many thanks.

Tubeless said:
It is believed that the early pioneer for autologous blood doping was Finnish 4-time Olympic gold medalist, 5,000 and 10,000 meter runner Lasse Viren.
While widely suspected looking back to 1976, Viren denies it to this day, and has repeatedly pointed out there is zero evidence to back up the accusation.

If I were to point to blood packing (as it was referred to then) I wouldn't point so much at Viren who was a top runner already, as the then unknown Waldemar Cierpinski of the DDR who came out of nowhere to win the gold in the Marathon. While Cierpinski's name didn't come up in the code books that Werner Franke and others cracked (read Faust's Gold), it's widely known that DDR athletes were terribly doped, often by decree, or secretly, without their consent.
 
Alpe d'Huez said:
Someone needs to enlighten me a little here. Was Lukáš Bauer simply so far ahead at that point he went slower than it looked up the final climb..? Because to see Nortug, Cologna and Hellner and some of the others falling over like they are dead really makes one wonder.
Petter Northug started about 10 seconds ahead of Lukas Bauer (and Cologna/Hellner started about 1 minute back) but Bauer got up to Northug. Almost immediately after they started the climb, Lukas Bauer got a huge gap on an exhausted Northug and won easily.
 
Oct 30, 2010
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Probably the first finnish long distance runner that used blood doping was Mikko Ala-Leppilampi. He was a customer of doctor Pekka Peltokallio. Ala-Leppilampi revealed that he used blood doping four times and especially before 10 000m races. Other runner that has admitted using blood doping was Kaarlo Maaninka (2nd at 10 000m and 3rd at 5000m in Moscow Olympics 1980). Third finn who has revealed using autogolous blood doping was xc skier Aki Karvonen. Who's career highlight was 1984 Sarajevo winter Olympics.
 
Jun 21, 2009
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neineinei said:
To be fair it must be said that there is nothing in cross country skiing anything like the last day of Tour de Ski, and Tour de Ski didn't start until 2007. There was no climbing anything like that in any cross country skiing event before 2007, and the last day of Tour de Ski is now the only event with that kind of climbing.
yup and most fans aren't really bothered with how people do on that climb as it's not got much to do with skiing
 
Jun 22, 2010
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So what would you gals/guys do? Should we just change the rules and have everyone on any kind of medicine/dope they want to be on, or should we continue with trying to make every sport clean as much as possible, or what? I see there are quite a few Scandos on this forum, so I don't need to shout at them via an internet message forum, because that is childish, but I have my doubts with them (the scando skiers). I wasn't really focusing on doping prior to 2002 and you could say prior to cyclings problem a little bit later with all the positives and eventually the operation puerto. First of all, I was a kid who didn't really know or hear of anything like that, and now that I do know as much as anybody else, I think it's quite sick but in some sports and cases, it seems to be OK or even necessary to perform at a high level (ex: TDF, baseball, track & field sprinting, american football, weightlifting). The Scandos have quite a few experts and quite a bit of money, same as the Russians, and to some extent Italians and Spaniards as well, so they generally have the equipment that is necessary to test, detect and hide just about anything. Again, most of us don't know what goes on beyond their training and in the labs and forests, but at this point, with the way pro sports are, I wouldn't be shocked to find anything anymore. I am certain of one thing though, if you try to tell a Norwegian that their stars of the 90's were doping, you'd probably get you behind kicked or sent to jail, lol!
 
May 26, 2009
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MustIski said:
Court case begins most likely in february before the Nordic World Ski Championships 2011 in Holmenkollen. No official date is decided, since district courts are in backlog at the moment.
Thanks. It's a pity that it takes so long for them to start.

MustIski said:
I find Leirem's statements hard to believe. For example Mika Myllylä has admitted using epo during his career. And also the blood samples were collected after competitions. Skiers were not tested during off season or during training camps in high altitude. Out of competition testing was very rare for long time.
He's not necessarily lying since (I think) he bases his statement partly on no positive EPO tests during his career.
"We have no positive EPO tests from any Nordic skier from any of the Championship races I have been involved in. And I've been involved in all the races from 1987"
If I read it correctly, he doesn't actually say that the blood values in the 90s show no traces of EPO use. He says that only in regards to Matikainen's blood values in 1989.

If however, he says that the blood values from the 90s show no traces of EPO use then he either isn't very good at his job or then you can't see the use of EPO from blood values. That however would contradict the Rasmus study linked by the OP. Besides, as you said, Mika Myllylä (medals from 1994-1999) has testified (in the ongoing STT doping case) that he used EPO during his career. That clearly questions Leirems competency. The fact that he's Norwegian might also play a part...
 
May 26, 2009
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FKLance said:
Back to Marjo Matikainen. Kyrö said the impression he got from Matikainen was a typical example of a blood doping athlete. The way her results changed, the way she was middle of-the-pack in small races (finnish nats) and then strangely added 5% in her performance in the biggest events (worlds/olympics) revealed that all of her success was bought with drugs and blood doping.
Was it this way or did he mean that Matikainen improved her performance by 5% more than her Finnish sisters improved?

Improving your fitness towards a big race, i.e. peaking, is commonplace in sports so I think Kyrö meant that while other skiers improved their performances Matikainen improved even more and went to another level during the Olympics and WCs. That would be what Armstrong, Schleck, Contador etc were/are doing: huge performance leap from Dauphiné to the Tour.
 
May 26, 2009
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Tubeless said:
It is believed that the early pioneer for autologous blood doping was Finnish 4-time Olympic gold medalist, 5,000 and 10,000 meter runner Lasse Viren. He was one of the earliest athletes that listed a doctor (Dr Pekka Peltokallio) as part of his support staff. Viren won his medals in 1972 and 1976. Blood doping wasn't even illegal back then - it became a banned method in 1985.

It is also widely speculated that the Finnish ski team picked up the blood doping knowledge from their running colleagues. It's a small country where most coaches know one another. Again, there's no public confirmation from anyone but it is believed that the Finnish ski team was using autologous blood doping at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, possibly earlier.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-country_skiing_at_the_1984_Winter_Olympics

The Finnish coach who's believed to have transferred the blood doping knowledge to Italy is Jarmo Punkkinen who served as the Italian head coach from 1984 to 1990. Italians became a major force in cross-country skiing during the 1990's.

So it should surprise no one that once EPO came along, there were many teams "prepared" to jump on board. As in cycling, it's hard to believe any cross-country skier medalist in world champs or Olympics in the 1990's was clean.]
Very very interesting! As Alpe d'Huez said this thread is a great read!

I know a Finnish runner who raced in the 80s and he told me how they took blood refills before important races. He ran mainly 800m races. No one famous but it's better we leave the names out :)

I've heard some rumors of Lasse Viren but nothing more. I think he's one of the greatest athletes in Finnish history so it's probably almost a taboo to even think he would've doped...
 
Sep 22, 2009
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RdBiker said:
Was it this way or did he mean that Matikainen improved her performance by 5% more than her Finnish sisters improved?

Improving your fitness towards a big race, i.e. peaking, is commonplace in sports so I think Kyrö meant that while other skiers improved their performances Matikainen improved even more and went to another level during the Olympics and WCs. That would be what Armstrong, Schleck, Contador etc were/are doing: huge performance leap from Dauphiné to the Tour.
Yes, this was what I meant, always at another level in the biggest events, like Armstrong.
 
Mar 4, 2010
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Tubeless said:
The race in question, 2002 Olympics 30km freestyle, is a good comparison between the two blood doping methods - EPO and autologous blood doping (I am assuming here that Hoffman and Botvinov got a blood boosting bag a day or two before the 30km).

All doped medalists would have bee subjected to the Hb limit test (17.0 g/L) and passed it, meaning Hb levels were likely not very different. It's not known how much extra blood the Austrians doped with - it's unlikely they would have brought blood over from home in a bag on a plane, but could have have gotten a blood transfusion just before leaving Austria, and immediately upon arrival in US drawn the blood back to store it, allow body to recreate some new blood - and then reinfuse the blood just before the race.

So the Austrians would have had a sizable boost in overall blood volume. Muehlegg was not micro-dosing EPO (as he got caught), but had to stay within the Hb test limits - so he was likely on it for a while at a steady level and got a measurable boost in overall blood volume as well.

So both Muehlegg and Hoffman & Bovinov would have had similar Hb levels, and likely simiarly boosted overall blood volume. Note that you can only boost blood volume to a point before the body starts reducing plasma to allow it to handle the artificially increased extra volume - this would trigger an increase in Hb and would likely cause the skier to be prevented to start the race.

But there was such a big difference in race performance (over 2 mins) that one has to tip EPO to have some other benefit as well. There are no formal studies that I am aware of to differentiate the various physiological changes from EPO - but I've seen several articles that suggest the 2,3 DPG enzyme boost may play a bigger role than previously known. That change is believed to be quick, almost immediate - which may help explain why e.g. Armstrong's 1999 sample analysis suggested he had gotten a big EPO injection very close to the start of the opening prolog, red blood cell production boost is known to take longer than just a day or two to make a measurable difference in performance (e.g. altitude training effect).
Oh, come on! Skiers had been on EPO for at least 10 years and Mühlegg had been suspected of EPO before. He was not the only EPO-doper in Salt Lake, nor was it the first time he took EPO. Your explanation for Mühlegg's ludicrous dominance over his rivals is totally implausible.
 
Tyler'sTwin said:
Oh, come on! Skiers had been on EPO for at least 10 years and Mühlegg had been suspected of EPO before. He was not the only EPO-doper in Salt Lake, nor was it the first time he took EPO. Your explanation for Mühlegg's ludicrous dominance over his rivals is totally implausible.
You realize there can be a difference in amounts of doping too, right? Mühlegg was probably doped up to the maximum on every single substance available.
 
Mar 4, 2010
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maltiv said:
You realize there can be a difference in amounts of doping too, right? Mühlegg was probably doped up to the maximum on every single substance available.
Yes, I'm saying that I don't think Mühlegg crushing the field in a manner that has never been seen before, nor after, is explained by 2,3 DPG.
 
Mar 4, 2010
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workingclasshero said:
there are a number of reasons i guess, one being that the material differences in skiing make a huge difference and the norwegian authorities couldn't throw enough money at their skiers in preperation for the '94 olympics. That could make enough of a difference to not need doping.
on the other hand daehlie's unbelievable Vo2max score can't be explained through superior materials


that could be the reason yes :) but during the period where i believe norwegian skiers may have doped (the '90s) NO ONE were caught.



let's not forget that koss was taught a few lessons just a few weeks before the '94 olympics, using the worlds or euro champs as a warm-up, pretty much like contador/armstrong/whoever at the dauphine.

was not his first wife also caught for PEDs?



also has a couple of broken marriages behind him, rumours have it he is a bit of a wife beater too. The similarities :eek:



to my knowledge they haven't spent a second there this summer. except northug who went to vegas to play poker.
On the other hand, XC skiers are expected to have higher VO2's than cyclists because they use more muscle groups. I'm not sure Daehlie's results are more impressive than LeMond's, even though he took the test in the summer... and that's another thing. How jacked up on EPO could he have been in the off-season? Doping cyclists would often have normal or close to normal crits in the winter, would they not? Where's that "state run italian doping" graph when you need it?
 
May 23, 2010
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RdBiker said:
Thanks. It's a pity that it takes so long for them to start.

He's not necessarily lying since (I think) he bases his statement partly on no positive EPO tests during his career.
"We have no positive EPO tests from any Nordic skier from any of the Championship races I have been involved in. And I've been involved in all the races from 1987"
If I read it correctly, he doesn't actually say that the blood values in the 90s show no traces of EPO use. He says that only in regards to Matikainen's blood values in 1989.

If however, he says that the blood values from the 90s show no traces of EPO use then he either isn't very good at his job or then you can't see the use of EPO from blood values. That however would contradict the Rasmus study linked by the OP. Besides, as you said, Mika Myllylä (medals from 1994-1999) has testified (in the ongoing STT doping case) that he used EPO during his career. That clearly questions Leirems competency. The fact that he's Norwegian might also play a part...
Here's a sample race from the 1995 xc-skiing world champs in Thunder Bay, Canada which were considered to be among the dirtiest for doping. This was well into the EPO era and before the Hb limit was introduced at the 1997 world champs.

http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/610.html?sector=CC&raceid=647

All races back then were interval-starts so there's little drafting or soft-pedaling going on. If we use the conventional visdom that EPO gives you a 5% boost - or 4 mins in this case, the 10th place skier was roughly that much behind the winner.

It's pretty clear that most skiers in the top 10 were on EPO. Which begs the question hwo Bjorn Dahlie could have placed that high in this company. He could well be the "Lance Armstrong of xc-skiing", a great champion, never tested positive - albeit a much nicer fella.

Smirnov was known to push the envelope - at the potential health risk. I've heard rumors that some of the skiers' Hb was pushing 22 g/l back in those days.
 
Tubeless said:
It's pretty clear that most skiers in the top 10 were on EPO. Which begs the question hwo Bjorn Dahlie could have placed that high in this company. He could well be the "Lance Armstrong of xc-skiing", a great champion, never tested positive - albeit a much nicer fella.
Let's not forget that the general level in skiing is much lower than in cycling, as there are far less participants. This could mean that there's a much bigger gap between the amount of talent, training etc between the respective athletes. Also note that the Norwegians had far superior skies at that time (which we should have considering how much money we spend on it comparing to other countries). So I think it's plausible that Bjørn Dæhlie was clean.
 
May 26, 2009
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maltiv said:
Let's not forget that the general level in skiing is much lower than in cycling, as there are far less participants. This could mean that there's a much bigger gap between the amount of talent, training etc between the respective athletes. Also note that the Norwegians had far superior skies at that time (which we should have considering how much money we spend on it comparing to other countries). So I think it's plausible that Bjørn Dæhlie was clean.
I'd say it's possible as in "It is possible that Lance Armstrong never doped".

But really? The best skier in an era when blood doping and EPO were abundant in sports was clean? I have nothing against Daehlie but pure logic says he was on something else than pasta and porridge.

Btw, I know a good ski can make or break a skiing race but I've never read about any tests on how much time a better ski can win you. Have you ever come across a test done on skis?
 
May 26, 2009
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Tubeless said:
Here's a sample race from the 1995 xc-skiing world champs in Thunder Bay, Canada which were considered to be among the dirtiest for doping. This was well into the EPO era and before the Hb limit was introduced at the 1997 world champs.

http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/610.html?sector=CC&raceid=647

All races back then were interval-starts so there's little drafting or soft-pedaling going on. If we use the conventional visdom that EPO gives you a 5% boost - or 4 mins in this case, the 10th place skier was roughly that much behind the winner.

It's pretty clear that most skiers in the top 10 were on EPO. Which begs the question hwo Bjorn Dahlie could have placed that high in this company. He could well be the "Lance Armstrong of xc-skiing", a great champion, never tested positive - albeit a much nicer fella.

Smirnov was known to push the envelope - at the potential health risk. I've heard rumors that some of the skiers' Hb was pushing 22 g/l back in those days.
Well we have certain Kazakh cyclists who are known to push the limits of whats allowed and what's not in cycling so I don't think it does Smirnov too much injustice if we say he doped :)
Considering Kyrö's accusations of Norway, Russia and Italy using doping (and of course Finland itself) it's funny that you have to go to the 10th place to find the first outside of these countries [Behle GER]. One could argue that Norway, Sweden and Finland are traditional sking nations but where are the Swedes from the top10 then?
 

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