Saturday, April 2, 2011

I Was Almost Positive about Veerpalu

I've commented on this blog several times on Andrus Veerpalu, who is on the one hand an elegant, gutsy skier whom I always enjoyed watching but who on the other hand always seemed suspiciously able to pull off big races. Well, comes this story from an Estonian newspaper (and reported on - translation by Google):

The Estonian newspaper Postimees writes on his website that the cross-country skier Andrus Veerpalu gave positive doping test at the end of January. (02.04.2011 - NTB)
40-year-old retired in February, just before the World Cup in Holmenkollen.
According to Postimees' sources, there is a doping sample taken during training camp in Otepää, Estonia has been shown to be positive. Neither the FIS or the Estonian Ski Federation has confirmed that it is passed positive doping test. Veerpalu even deny it. Estonian has won both Olympic and World Championship gold. Veerpalu said he retired because of knee problems.


joran said...

Interesting that the newspaper would run with that with (seemingly) so few details. If he had a positive test all the way back in Jan that was confirmed in the B sample, you'd think FIS would've said something by now.

If they're reporting as news a positive A sample, but the B sample was negative, that seems sketchy. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Anonymous said...

Yeah Veerpalu was either a genius at what he was doing with his peaking or his doctor was Greg Anderson/Chris Carmichael/Robbie Ventura 2.0. Another thing I wanted to say was, a couple of weeks ago I commented on your post on WCS hits/misses, and posted a link of a post you guys put up in late 2008 about the 'rumors' on several athletes being linked to possible doping, which included Bjoergen and Kuitunen. You never responded to it, and I am wondering why. I don't know if you took offense to it or whether you thought it was strange to find a post from 2 1/2 years creeping into the present, or you were just flabbergasted altogether. I just wanted to see what your opinion was, 2 1/2 years later.

Christopher Tassava said...

I'm going to do another post on this, as more information trickles out of Estonia, and on the lower-intensity news from Finland about the 2001 Lahti scandal, which is currently being litigated. There's lots of doping news, in short.

On that point, I'm sorry I never responded to your earlier comment, Anonymous/XCRules. I don't really put anyone above doping, though I try (as with Veerpalu) to give racers the benefit of the doubt. Kuitunen, having done her time, was one such skier; Bjørgen is another. It's interesting that that earlier piece came out before her asthma was diagnosed. (Insert sneer quotes as you might need.) Maybe she *is* medicating herself to a higher standard.

That 2008 post and article also point up FIS's orientation toward secrecy, a theme that comes out when rumors about doping surface but are never confirmed but also that also comes out when the FIS flubs the handling of a real doping case, as with Dementiev last year. (Nat Herz has done some good stuff on that case.) I can understand why neither athletes (who may or may not be doping) nor the FIS (which wants to be seen to be running a clean sport) would like to have doping be front and center, but at the same time I'd like to know that the sport and the athletes are in fact clean.

Anonymous said...

Christopher, thanks for the reply! Well said. I am hoping there is some clarity about this Veerpalu issue. Today, the Estonian Federation will have a live press conference with Veerpalu in the center of it, and they will formally anounce his positive test. It will also reveal a deeper, more complex network that Veerpalu and other top athletes have been a part of for years. Supposedly, he and numerous other athletes (biathletes, cyclists,) have been involved with an Austrian doctor, Matzschiner, based in Vienna. If you remember Bernhard Kohl, the Austrian revelation in the 2008 TDF, has been associated with this Vienna lab and was disqualified for life last year. While Veerpalu has had knee injuries in recent years, or so they say, the timing of his retirement is very close to his positive test for growth hormones. I wonder if this will bring up more names.

Anonymous said...

International Ski Federation FIS has declared this evening, at 16.05, that Andrus Veerpalu /EST B-test was doping-positive.

/Blood sample for HGH, prohibited substance by WADA list/