Doping in XC skiing

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Sep 25, 2009
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i agree with both of you trond and tomas - a proper diagonal striding technique is more technically challenging than the proper skating. i reckon, this is because the timing of a propulsive force in striding is much shorter (and therefore is more critical) than when skating. i also consider classic style a poetry in motion compared to skating but that‘s altogether a different matter…

i think cloxxki was referring to a tendency of many tall skiers (i and cloxxki are about the size of daniel richardsson) to naturally excel at double-poling. i am not sure of the exact bio-mechanics behind, but perhaps being more secure and stable due to lack of diagonal side-to-side rocking, allows our longer limbs work as an efficient system of levers generating a longer propulsion cycle.:confused:

trond, i enjoy reading the way you write about xc skiing. but I am a numbers guy and have been playing myself with ski prepping for years. i don’t find your subjective descriptions of ski prepping differences a reliable yardstick when compared to blood doping effects.

in an earlier post i attempt to find a scientifically sound % improvement due to better prepping. at best, one can find numbers around 3%, whereas blood doping (though i’d argue tubless’ 7% is pushing the limit at elite level) 3-5% is common due to blood doping.


an interesting point in case is a recent study by Øyvind Sandbakk. he found that the difference between the world and national class was 7%. this imo validates a point that a good skier with enough epo can become a world class.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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XC skiing has many fixed numbers which will favor or disadvantage skiers of different build. the fixed distance between classical tracks for in stance. Instable but efficient for tall skiers, stable but inefficient for shorter ones?

Minimal ski width 40mm. this will favor some, and disadvantage some. Mimimal ski length relative to body height in skating makes it hard for a tall skier to find legal skis AT ALL. And actually, longer skis will glide better. Short is nice for sprinting, tight corners.

Why is in XC terms the effect of EPO/blood doping expressed to be so much less than in cycling? I've seen figures well above 10% in cycling. Say, boosting a natural Hct from 40 to 50 with "altitude training", and then adding a 500cc blood bag of such thick blood to top off. No way you'll be limited to 107% of your natural capacity then. And there is so much more dopers can do than that.
Of course a part of the XC race is spent on downhills. You will get a higher start and top speed with doping, but much less of an advantage over clean. On a long climb though, doping is going to make all the difference. Do we remember Tobias Angerer flying up Alpe Cermis? Hardly a climber build. Then, few climber types to be found in XC, although that never seems to keep them from doing well.
 
Apr 29, 2011
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Tubeless said:
And guess who totally dominated the Germans and the Swedes at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City? A skier named Johann Muehlegg from Spain, a country with a tiny budget to invest in ski grinding and waxing. His method to dominance? EPO. Yes, he got caught due to a new EPO test - but let me just point out again that there were no such test throughout the 1990's.

You continue to argue the angle that Norwegians had a unique advantage in skis THROUGHOUT the 1990s when Daehli, Ulvang and Alsgaard were beating known dopers from Italy, Russia, Finland, Kazakhstan and elsewhere in all types of snow conditions, including those where skis and waxing play a relatively small role (e.g. old cold snow, icy / transformed snow). Even if the Norwegians had a small advantage in skis in EVERY race, this would not begin to explain how they can close the 5-7% benefit from doping to the gills with EPO.

My Norwegian friends have started to take the view that they simply don't want to talk about the 1990's. They want to believe in the "high ethics" or their beloved countrymen. But they also recognize the POSSIBILITY that things might not have been what it seemed at the time. It is the same process kids go through when they begin to realize that Santa Claus is not for real. That's what the Norwegian response to the recent revelations in the Finnish film and the doping admissions by former Norwegian pro cyclists looks like from the outside.

Sorry to be so blatant, but no logic seems to get across in this discussion. ;-)
If you don't know, you don't know. I have never claimed all Norwegian were clean. I am just saying this ain't a big sport unlike cycling so big budgets and 100 times as many talents will produce more winners. An example you have forgotten about is all 8 Norwegians finishing top 8 in a WC race in St Moritz. Really tanked up or maybe you don't know what you on about. Pointing at the winner and claim they are doing dope isn't all that bright. I think I can get my dog to do that!
 
Jun 25, 2009
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Velo1ticker said:
, and if you got money you'll spend it on dope.
:D

As a middle of the pack mtb-racer I will now claim that all guys over me on the list is on drugs :D I feel much better now.
 
Jul 21, 2012
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Velo1ticker said:
If you don't know, you don't know. I have never claimed all Norwegian were clean. I am just saying this ain't a big sport unlike cycling so big budgets and 100 times as many talents will produce more winners. An example you have forgotten about is all 8 Norwegians finishing top 8 in a WC race in St Moritz. Really tanked up or maybe you don't know what you on about. Pointing at the winner and claim they are doing dope isn't all that bright. I think I can get my dog to do that!
How come they couldnt beat Muhlegg in Salt lake city then? Their superior budget and better skis and talent couldnt make up for lack of EPO that day?
 
May 23, 2010
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Velo1ticker said:
If you don't know, you don't know. I have never claimed all Norwegian were clean. I am just saying this ain't a big sport unlike cycling so big budgets and 100 times as many talents will produce more winners. An example you have forgotten about is all 8 Norwegians finishing top 8 in a WC race in St Moritz. Really tanked up or maybe you don't know what you on about. Pointing at the winner and claim they are doing dope isn't all that bright. I think I can get my dog to do that!
We do know that it was not possible to beat dopers without doping during the time when there was no EPO test, no Hb limits, no blood profiling. We also know that Italians, Finns, Austrians, Russians and many others doped. During the 1980's the trick was well-timed blood bags and in the 1990's it was EPO.

There are lots of followers and fans of skiing who want to believe in the high ethics and morals of our heros. In reality, top level skiing is a business and a profession, a job that pays money - provided you win or place well enough to earn the money. Pro sports is also the only business where you can cheat (via doping), earn money and no one will ever be able to claim that money back from you even if you get caught later. In most countries, doping is not a crime, and you can't be sued for civil penalties - it's a simple infraction of your competition license, punishable only via an exclusion form competition for a period of time.

Look at Lance Armstrong as an example. He's worth $130 million and even if he loses the pending lawsuits against him, he'll keep at least $100 million. He dared us to challenge his morals and ethics during his heydays, famously touting in a Nike-sponsored commercial by saying "What am I on? I am on my bike 6 hours a day." - and many us totally fell for the lie. He's still denying he doped and he was never (officially) caught in a doping test.

When the question was posed to a promising young skier as follows: You have a chance to make several million dollars (or Krones), there's no chance to get caught, everyone else is doing the same, and by the way, you'll have to go along with the program to stay on the team, what would have you done yourself? I don't blame the athletes or the national teams. FIS was totally complicit and knew what was going on, but probably felt they could not stop it - the whole system was stacked against clean athletes. Today's system is still not perfect, but it's much improved and I do think it is indeed now possible to win clean.
 
Bavarianrider said:
I am really worried about Gössner. She lost 10 Kilos!!!!!:eek: That's really a lot for her. I fear that sooner or later she will totally hit the wall. Can't be healthy in my opinion.
TomasC said:
I guess that's roughly the difference in weight she had between 2010/11 and 2011/12 but in the opposite direction :). So we can expect great things from Miri!
Well no, actually 10 is too much if true.
Bavarianrider said:
Don't know, she really looks very slim to me.Unnnaturaly slim. I don't know if that is healty in the long term.:eek:
She did say she felt too heavy and was racing above her ideal racing weight last year.

However, her weight loss has been quite extreme and it has been noted a few times in the industry press; it's been marked as 'on the boundaries of acceptable' in terms of her actually being able to process the required calories for competition. I know that in the past the Norwegian XC coaches have had a similar issue with Therese Johaug and her climber's build. Gößner has quite a dynamic style, but nothing even remotely comparable to Johaug's continual high tempo. As long as she doesn't lose any more I think she'll be alright, although she might be more susceptible to illnesses, racing underweight like that.
 
Jun 25, 2009
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python said:
trond, i enjoy reading the way you write about xc skiing. but I am a numbers guy and have been playing myself with ski prepping for years. i don’t find your subjective descriptions of ski prepping differences a reliable yardstick when compared to blood doping effects.
Thanks! I am enjoying the discussion here :)
 
Jun 25, 2009
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Libertine Seguros said:
She did say she felt too heavy and was racing above her ideal racing weight last year.

However, her weight loss has been quite extreme and it has been noted a few times in the industry press; it's been marked as 'on the boundaries of acceptable' in terms of her actually being able to process the required calories for competition. I know that in the past the Norwegian XC coaches have had a similar issue with Therese Johaug and her climber's build. Gößner has quite a dynamic style, but nothing even remotely comparable to Johaug's continual high tempo. As long as she doesn't lose any more I think she'll be alright, although she might be more susceptible to illnesses, racing underweight like that.
Any recent pictures of Gößner?

I live only 15 minutes away from Johaug in Oslo, and have seen her a couple of times this summer on rollerskis. She is little, but comparative to what you see on the TV. Bjørgen, OTOH, is just SO much tinier in real life than you would expect from the TV. Not very tall, and quite skinny. In know the pictures online tell a different story, but it is just weird to see how big the difference is in real life.
 
Jun 25, 2009
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the sceptic said:
How come they couldnt beat Muhlegg in Salt lake city then? Their superior budget and better skis and talent couldnt make up for lack of EPO that day?
Not Normal!


Wasn't he popped for Aranesp? There was something Bjarne Riisque over Muehlegg in that Olympics. Wonder what his numbers were.
 
Jun 21, 2009
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Trond Vidar said:
Wasn't he popped for Aranesp? There was something Bjarne Riisque over Muehlegg in that Olympics. Wonder what his numbers were.
I believe he kept going at it in true 90's style despite the improved testing.
whereas the rest of the xc skiers realised they couldn't dope as much anymore, especially as this was the year after the Lahti scandal.

That along with the altitude and the tough tough course in Salt Lake City made him stand out like he did. He was a good skier also at other times (gold winner at Lahti '01) but never to that crazy level.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Trond Vidar said:
Any recent pictures of Gößner?

I live only 15 minutes away from Johaug in Oslo, and have seen her a couple of times this summer on rollerskis. She is little, but comparative to what you see on the TV. Bjørgen, OTOH, is just SO much tinier in real life than you would expect from the TV. Not very tall, and quite skinny. In know the pictures online tell a different story, but it is just weird to see how big the difference is in real life.
Just some observations.

On the wide-spread swim suit pictures of Johaug (just try and find a pic of her in jeans and sweater) she never looked too skinny to me. Partly perhaps because she's in fact shorter than she may look, making her relatively solid. Also during after-race changing routines, it looks very healty, just in no way chubby of course.
I would totally cuddle choke Terese, that cute little thing. I know in reality she'll just put me (twice her weight) out of my misery before I realize it :)

Bjoergen just post race season shows up to awards gala's in cocktail dresses showing upper body muscle definition that would get her prizes in body building. Not normal in my book. And not normal to be among the fastest women in the world up an Alp looking like that. She makes Lance look flimsy.
take a nice Vrijman like report report to explain how so much muscle does not become an achor up a sizeable steep hill.

Domracheva is just a skinny built Russian girl. You'd recognize her as such even without her face. I had the pleasure of dating Eastern European girls, and whatever they eat (bread, pasta, lots of butter and oil for cooking), they just look like that. Any Russian girl that does any amount of jogging or aerobics can look toned like Darya.

Neuner, me as a man who likes fit looking girls, would not fall for her unless she was just so cute and fast. Almost chubby on summer pictures. A bit like
Kim Clijsters perhaps, never skinny, usually fit enough, great strength.
 
Apr 26, 2010
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Perhaps you could consider starting a thread in Cafe dealing with your platonic relations to biathletes and/or XC skiers? :)

No offence meant, please go on.

To contribute something, here you can inspect the above mentioned chubbiness.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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workingclasshero said:
i don't think you quite grasp just how tiny a sport womens xc skiing is.
Well there surely is more performance spread between first and last in a WC.
But does that make it OK for a bodybuilder for rule it in pretty much every discipline of the sport? Even if it's a small sport, those 100-200 other female ski pro's (OK let's call them elites) are not without talent, and they are not slacking.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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MrRoboto said:
Here you can see what happens when the norwegians have ridiculously better prepped skis than the opponents:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHWOTlssmog

And if you look at the crowd, you might understand why norwegians rather not talk about doping.
...and imply it's but a small sport without need for doping.

Silly, silly results. EPO'd Italians minutes behind?

Leading nations have learned from this. Make it look like close competition even if it isn't.
 
Jun 21, 2009
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Cloxxki said:
Well there surely is more performance spread between first and last in a WC.
But does that make it OK for a bodybuilder for rule it in pretty much every discipline of the sport? Even if it's a small sport, those 100-200 other female ski pro's (OK let's call them elites) are not without talent, and they are not slacking.
There aren't 100-200 full time pros, there are maybe 20 and even that is pushing it.

Add to that the fact that Norway, currently the #1 country in women's xcs, probably miss out on a lot of its top talent as the sport is for the selected few with wealthy parents. It is a very expensive sport to do even for young kids
 
May 23, 2010
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python said:
i agree with both of you trond and tomas - a proper diagonal striding technique is more technically challenging than the proper skating. i reckon, this is because the timing of a propulsive force in striding is much shorter (and therefore is more critical) than when skating. i also consider classic style a poetry in motion compared to skating but that‘s altogether a different matter…

i think cloxxki was referring to a tendency of many tall skiers (i and cloxxki are about the size of daniel richardsson) to naturally excel at double-poling. i am not sure of the exact bio-mechanics behind, but perhaps being more secure and stable due to lack of diagonal side-to-side rocking, allows our longer limbs work as an efficient system of levers generating a longer propulsion cycle.:confused:

trond, i enjoy reading the way you write about xc skiing. but I am a numbers guy and have been playing myself with ski prepping for years. i don’t find your subjective descriptions of ski prepping differences a reliable yardstick when compared to blood doping effects.

in an earlier post i attempt to find a scientifically sound % improvement due to better prepping. at best, one can find numbers around 3%, whereas blood doping (though i’d argue tubless’ 7% is pushing the limit at elite level) 3-5% is common due to blood doping.


an interesting point in case is a recent study by Øyvind Sandbakk. he found that the difference between the world and national class was 7%. this imo validates a point that a good skier with enough epo can become a world class.
Tapio Wideman, a Finnish PhD and doctor and a member of the FIS medical commission during the 1990's offers a reference value on the new Finnish doping movie / documentary by saying that 1 g/l raise in Hb (from 15 to 16 g/l) was measured to improve the actual finish time by 2.5%. He does not cite the actual test, but FIS was doing officially sanctioned research at world cup races during his tenure.

Tyler's book (Chapter 6) shows results from a hill climb time trial that he repeated 2 months later after an EPO boost:

March 30, 2000
- Time: 36:03
- Hematocrit: 43
- Hemoglobin: 14.1 g/l

May 31, 2000
- Time 32:32
- Hematocrit: 50
- Hemoglobin: 16.4 g/l

The time improvement (3:31) is 9.75%. His Hemoglobin was 2.3 g/l higher which should only amount to 5.75% gain using Wideman's formula. Tyler had to stay under the 50% rule that UCI had started to enforce in 1997.

The actual % improvement obviously depends on what you're comparing against. Some of the top skiers in the 1990's had Hb values above 20 which would mean 10% or more in actual time improvement against non-dopers (typical Hemoglobin for men is 14-15 g/l).
 
Mar 4, 2010
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Kyrö thinks the courses of the 90's benefited EPO-users (as if they needed more of an advantage) because there was more climbing.

Why we went in what I call the "EPO-trails"? They were twice as hard as before in history and three times as hard as the trails are today. They were made ​​for EPO users. There were differences in altitude of 120 meters in 10 kilometers. It was crazy.
http://sport.aftenposten.no/sport/langrenn/article258504.ece
 
Sep 25, 2009
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yesterday, i watched randall , a sprint specialist, stamp her dominance at a fis world cup sprint race in québec…nothing unexpected really. but after several relatively poor seasons, this year she also showed super form in longer races competing against the world's best.

since i normally don’t follow american xc skiers due to their lack of results, i decided to do some digging on the randall’s performance jump...

and i came across this pure gold statement by her coach at the time after she was sidelined at the turin olympics for high haemoglobin
Whether you're a cross-country skier or Lance Armstrong or Tyler Hamilton, you're assumed guilty because you have high hemoglobin levels…
to clarify, at the turin olympics just like today, fis haemoglobin limit for ladies was 16. randall was tested above it. one needs to know her baseline before making any rush judgments. thankfully, another article offered an answer. when randall was hospitalized with a blood clot, her haemoglobin was at a rather benign 13.2. it would take an unlikely 21% jump to cross the limit due to plain dehydration (an explanation at the time). it must be added here, that unlike the uci, fis had long ago decided to focus on monitoring a more stable haemoglobin rather than haematocrit susceptible to x3 variability due to dehydration.

to be fair to kikkan, i must state that i was unable to find another officially recorded hemoglobin jump. many with the similar temporary problem were later banned for blood doping. she never was. yet, i did find vague self references to her being susceptible to high values particularly at altitude. had she been truly genetically susceptible, she’d have the special dispensation. apparently, she did not have one at the time of failing the test and after being an experienced professional for years...

make your own conclusions…but i have just found my seed of doubt. at least about her past.
 
Sep 29, 2012
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Tubeless said:
Tyler's book (Chapter 6) shows results from a hill climb time trial that he repeated 2 months later after an EPO boost:

March 30, 2000
- Time: 36:03
- Hematocrit: 43
- Hemoglobin: 14.1 g/l

May 31, 2000
- Time 32:32
- Hematocrit: 50
- Hemoglobin: 16.4 g/l

The time improvement (3:31) is 9.75%. His Hemoglobin was 2.3 g/l higher which should only amount to 5.75% gain using Wideman's formula. Tyler had to stay under the 50% rule that UCI had started to enforce in 1997.
.
His weight had dropped dramatically also.
 
May 23, 2010
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python said:
yesterday, i watched randall , a sprint specialist, stamp her dominance at a fis world cup sprint race in québec…nothing unexpected really. but after several relatively poor seasons, this year she also showed super form in longer races competing against the world's best.

since i normally don’t follow american xc skiers due to their lack of results, i decided to do some digging on the randall’s performance jump...

and i came across this pure gold statement by her coach at the time after she was sidelined at the turin olympics for high haemoglobin

to clarify, at the turin olympics just like today, fis haemoglobin limit for ladies was 16. randall was tested above it. one needs to know her baseline before making any rush judgments. thankfully, another article offered an answer. when randall was hospitalized with a blood clot, her haemoglobin was at a rather benign 13.2. it would take an unlikely 21% jump to cross the limit due to plain dehydration (an explanation at the time). it must be added here, that unlike the uci, fis had long ago decided to focus on monitoring a more stable haemoglobin rather than haematocrit susceptible to x3 variability due to dehydration.

to be fair to kikkan, i must state that i was unable to find another officially recorded hemoglobin jump. many with the similar temporary problem were later banned for blood doping. she never was. yet, i did find vague self references to her being susceptible to high values particularly at altitude. had she been truly genetically susceptible, she’d have the special dispensation. apparently, she did not have one at the time of failing the test and after being an experienced professional for years...

make your own conclusions…but i have just found my seed of doubt. at least about her past.
It is possible to record a high Hb after spending an extended amount of time at altitude. During my college years (NCAA cross-country skiing), I used to live at 5000 feet and trained at higher elevations - and recall one specific blood test where my Hb was 17.4 g/l, Hkr was 52.4. No EPO required (this was in the early 1980's).

I don't know whether Kikkan spent a month or longer at altitude before the 2006 Olympics - but since the elevation there was right around 5000 feet, it would make sense the prep camp was up even higher. There were several skiers that were caught for high Hb in 2006, and the 3 North Americans (Randall, Crooks, Zimmerman) all seem non-suspicious with the benefit of hindsight:

http://olympgames.blogspot.ca/2006/02/four-more-skiers-suspended-for-high.html
 
Sep 29, 2012
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Tubeless said:
It is possible to record a high Hb after spending an extended amount of time at altitude. During my college years (NCAA cross-country skiing), I used to live at 5000 feet and trained at higher elevations - and recall one specific blood test where my Hb was 17.4 g/l, Hkr was 52.4. No EPO required (this was in the early 1980's).
Great info!

Do you know what your natural Hgb/Hct was? ie living at sea level?

Also, do you know what altitude skiiers tend to compete at?
 

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