Three Russian women on top in a World Cup race for the first time in four years — five days before the start of the World Championship. It raises lingering suspicions. Several coaches doubt that the Russians are clean reports Norwegian newspaper VG (www.vg.no story on http://www.vg.no/pub/vgart.hbs?artid=266570 )
– They must have got a good doctor, says an outspoken coach for one of the leading cross country ski nations.
VG talked to head coaches from many nations after Saturday’s World Cup race. No one wanted to openly say that they suspects the Russians, but several made very clear hints.
The Russian team has spent the last three weeks at 2500-meters altitude in Armenia. Saturday they captured the top three spots and placed an additional three skiers in the top ten. The Russian team has not at all dominated so far this season. Four of the skiers have season best results on Saturday. (See end of story for recent World Cup results)
– We need to consider Armenia for our pre-Olympic camp next year if we can achieve the same progress as the Russians, said Svein Tore Samdal head coach for the Norwegian team sarcastically.
– We were tested several times while we were there, said Julia Tsjepalova during Saturday’s press conference.
– I don’t know if they were tested by the national doping agency, said the International Ski Federation’s (FIS) Chief of racing, Jurg Capol.
– Is the Russian anti-doping agency working? Wondered Jochen Behle, the German national team head coach.
The German team has been in Toblach for ten days and was tested three times during that camp.
Julia Tsjepalova doesn’t understand that anyone would suspect the Russians
– We go through the same doping tests as everyone else. I will be tested now, said Tsjepalova after the race.
The Russian head coach, Juri Tsjarkowski, commented to German television that he was surprised over the good Russian results
– We have trained well at altitude. It remains to be seen if we can do the same in Obersdorf, said Tsjarkowski.
Marit Bjorgen was the best Norwegian with a fourth place on Saturday. She doesn’t suspect the Russians.
– I just have to believe that they have done a fair job. They are clean, I believe, said Bjorgen
Editorial note by Torbjorn Karlsen:
Julia Tsjepalova's comment that she doesn’t understand that anyone could suspect the Russians for doping seems pretty naÃ¯ve: Two of her team mates, Dailova and Lazutina were, along with Johan Muhlegg the Super Dopers of the 2002 Olympics and responsible for ruining the Olympics.
It’s wildly suspected that additional skiers were lucky that they didn’t get caught as well.
Editor's Note: For a related editorial, see Doper's Tarnish The Sport For All of Us by Torbjorn Karlsen: <http://www.fasterskier.com/opinion562.html