Norwegian Coach: Innocent Athletes Are Victimized

FasterSkierFebruary 11, 2006

Source: Nettavisen

Four new athletes were denied start right due to too high hemoglobin values on Friday. Norwegian women’s coach Svein Tore Samdal blasts the current blood testing system.

– The system makes athletes that have not done anything wrong at all not legible to compete. Some athletes are born with high values. Its nonsense that they shouldn’t be able to use that advantage in their sport, says the Norwegian women’s coach Svein Tore Samdal to TV2 Nettavisen.

There are at the moment 12 cross country skiers that have been denied start rights for Sunday’s opening races. This is a result of hemoglobin values tested over the limit of 16 gram hemoglobin per 100 ml blood for women and 17 for men

The problem

The limit is adopted for medical reason. But it’s no secret that it’s also supposed to prevent blood-doping

– But most athletes that are denied start rights have absolutely not doped, underlines Samdal, who also says that the system needs to be re-evaluated.

– This is something that’s used to brush the real problem under the carpet. The problem is that there isn’t a method to prove blood doping through blood tests. Even extreme values don’t give legal bases for a doping conviction. EPO can only be detected through urine analyzes. And the substance (EPO) is out of the system after 24-hours, making it almost impossible to catch the cheaters, says Samdal

Increase the limits

The Norwegian national team doctor, Hans Petter Stokke agrees that the current system is not working correctly. He wants to solve the problem by increasing the limits.

– If we had increased the limits by 0.5 for both men and women, almost everyone that was refused start rights would have passed, says Stokke.

He is not surprised that this many athletes are refused start rights to a championship at 1600-meter altitude.

Can also victimize Norwegians

He can not rule out that Norwegian skiers might be refused start rights.

– We have several skiers that are close to the limits. We are very aware of this. We make sure that they are drinking enough water prior to the blood tests, since this helps thin the blood explains Stokke.

Some athletes with high blood values have received a blood-certificate by FIS making values up to 16.5 (for women and 17.5 (for men) are accepted. Frode Estil, Tore Ruud Hofstad and German skier Jens Filbrich are among the skiers with blood certificates.

Germany applied for a certificate for Evi Sachenbacher Stehle ahead of the Olympics, but this was not granted. She is now left out of Sunday’s opening race in the Olympics.


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