To think Elofsson went shoulder to shoulder with these guys with his 15.0g/liter hemoglobin with normal variations.. Its a farce.
Feels like his 2001 and 2003 golds were only possible due to the epo test introduction in 2001 and the salt lake city darbapoietin bust in 2002 scaring others off for the next season.
Look at the mean graphs of hb (the lahthis 2001 paper) dropping significantly at the 2003 season, down to elofssons mean level.
Biggest natural talent of the last 25 years. Robbed of so many olympics golds.
You cant say hgb count = better performance. If it were that simple, guys with normal 17,5-18,5 would dominate.
Also, I'm not sure if he should be the standard of what is normal. Normal is a very large range.
I have a theory that the best skiers are not limited in their o2 transport capabilities at low altitude, but are at high altitude. Hence doping at High altitude could be really beneficial, and the o2 dopers will have an advantage.
Thats part of why Muhlegg suddenly became so dominant: The best guys who were skiing clean were going slower.
Now in that 2002 race Elofsson should have let Muhlegg go when he was reaching his limit, the others did and were able to finnish the race not that far down on the list. Had he done that he should have beaten Skjeldal for the bronze(4th at the time). Perhaps even beat out the austrian blood injectors for the gold(2nd at the time).
2001 and 2003 were at low level, and I would think Elofsson like the other best skiers would have an o2 around 90. He would then more be limited by his skill and the skiis. Hence he did better.
Now about those different hb values over time, I havent had time to read this paper yeat(or I have read it before).
The numbers used to inform about the averages are likely skewed:
- The Lahti numbers were with real blood tests(forgot the correct term) that were accurate. They were also taken of all the participans IIRC. So you would get an average similar to the normal population.
- The 1990-200x numbers had a lot of numbers, if not all, were only the top 4 were tested. So lets say 2 were on average clean, while 2 were heavily doped.
This would skew the numbers to a much higher level, while the average for the entire crop of skiers might have been the same as in 1989 though I find that unlikely. Likely there was a lot of doping, but It wouldn't be as much as the numbers with the the average of the top 4 indicate.
- Also they used inaccurate equipment, with no established procedure.
- The 2001 + numers could give indications of less doping due to adjustment to the testing regime, but they could also be due to changes in procedures and equipment. It was likely a bit of both.
- Forgot another error, the test retest error: Lets say they are ensuring no one is over the set limit. If someone who should be at 15 is suddenly at 17, there is no reason to retest to see if the number is correct. They would retest if the number goes over the set limit, but not under. Hence that is another element that could have contributed to skewing of the numbers.
Hence I would caution against taking the numbers at face value. I haven't seen many AD experts taking much of this into account.
Why that is I can only speculate.
- It could be I'm reading the wrong papers.
- It could be that the researchers don't bother with such details, and just assume that the numbers represent something they actually do not. (like forgetting how many were tested in each competition etc).
- It could be they just didn't think about it.
- It could be they want to yell wolf to get more funding.
- It could also be that they are just sloppy.
Ups, a bit long post. Sorry.