On Sunday in Kuusamo, Finland, Germany's Jens Filbrich was prevented from racing the men's 15km free technique race after a pre-race blood test determined that his hemoglobin level was too high. He was suspended by FIS for five days.
Filbrich's hemoglobin level was 17 g/dL, which is the limit authorized by FIS. An elevated hemoglobin level can be an indicator of banned blood-enhancing substances, such as EPO.
Filbrich said the abnormal reading was because he has a naturally high hemoglobin. He was banned for a similar offence last year, when he tried to prove his innocence by showing that his brother has a hemoglobin level of 18 g/dL.
“It's unbelievable that I can't compete because of my genetic make-up. I do not dope,” said Filbrich Sunday.
The German Ski Federation (DSV) immediately appealed.
“Jens was in line with all the doping controls, he's a clean athlete who does not resort to doping,” said one of Germany's team coaches, Jochen Behle.
Representatives of FIS and the German team will meet within the next two weeks to bring a solution in the case. Meanwhile, medical and legal advisers of the German team are examining the circumstances.
The medical expert of the FIS explained to the German website XC-Ski.de why Filbrich has not yet received special permission for naturally increased hemoglobin values.
“The two most important criteria [to receive around an exemption] are:
1. Constantly high to very high hemoglobin values during the entire year.
2. A family history of high hemoglobin values.
Jens Filbrich does not fulfill these criteria.”
It was not explained how he determined that Filbrich did not meet these criteria.