Kuitunen Calls For Microchip Implants to Track Athletes

FasterSkierJune 29, 200913

Finnish ski star Virpi Kuitunen presented a unique idea for aiding in doping prevention – the implantation of a microchip under the skin, allowing anti-doping officials to constantly know the whereabouts of athletes.  Currently, athletes must routinely update a website with their current location, and any upcoming travel plans.  Mistakes or simple forgetfulness in this process can result in warnings, and ultimately, a “positive” test.

The strict requirements have led many athletes to protest on the grounds of privacy concerns.  And the need for daily updates as even caused problems for Norwegian Biathlete Ole-Einar Bjorndalen, known for his systematic planning and long-term scheduling.

“With a microchip under the skin, doping inspectors could know where you are at all times.  No one can hide away,” said Kuitunen.

“Why not?” continued the former overall World Cup Champion.  “It will make the sport clean and fair. It would also be easier than the current system.”

But Kuitunen, who was implicated in the 2001 Finnish doping scandal, does not mind the inconvenience.  “My door is open all the time.  If they come 5 or 17 times, I do not care” she said.

Kutiunen also feels that doping inspectors are doing a good job in Finland, though she sees a need for more oversight in Central Europe.  But overall she does not waste her time worrying about what others are doing.

She served a two-year ban for her involvement in 2001, and recently more details of that scandal have come to light, with Kutitunen claiming she was tricked by then-Finnish coach Kari Pekka Kyro.

Kuitunen presented her idea of a microchip to a WADA official at a team camp in Ramsau.  She says she has the support of the Finnish team.

Sources: Langrenn.com, adressa.no

Virpi Kuitunen
Virpi Kuitunen


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  • Willis

    June 29, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Wait a minute…had to check the date. Is she kidding? Of course Kuitunen was clean all along. All the fault of those tricky coaches. She sounds about as sharp as David Millar.

  • Robert Duncan Douglas

    June 29, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    I have discussed having USADA issue a cell phone to all athletes or using a spot like device with the executive director of USADA. It is still intrusive. It is great that Athletes who are supposed to be”Role Models” and who have never done anything illegal or cheated in their lives being put under more scrutiny then a level 3 felony sex offender. The current system is a pain. Now it is another story to monitor at great inconvenience convicted dopers. Competing in a sport is a priviledge not a right.

  • nordic_dave

    June 29, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    As a newly indoctrinated and increasingly loyal member of the “Jacked Up Nation” , I am quite proud that the Jacked Up Old Man (although he is still in the age group of a certified “skate park/ surf punk” to me) has voiced his concerns of such obnoxious behaivior of USADA, i.e. “guilty until proven innocent”. Read the Jacked Up Old Man’s blog.
    Over reaction is as worse as under reaction. I fly about 100k a year and see all types of stuff that I look at like you’re kidding me right? TSA with an attitude, power control freaks that DON’T KNOW JACK!

    Meanwhile in Belorussia, Russia even those smiling cow farmers in Austria just shrug. Italy walked away from this albeit with residue yet it wasn’t worth it to them. Their historic duels against Norway will become footnotes as a result.

    Ok before this looks like too much of a John Caldwell RANT and whine and cheese fest as he is now his legacy.

    How about suggesting some other ideas? Like a country who’s skiers repeatedly test positive get the “death sentence”.
    Multiple infractions mean entire nation team bans from the World Championships/ Olympics, World Cups, etc… ?
    That way they own their crap instead of just shrugging off when it happens. The Russians have historically proved that if you aren’t cheating you aren’t working hard enough.

    I’d feel much better about the Jacked Up Old Man’s recent asinine USADA inquiry if USADA’s tenacity was distributed equally world wide.

    That way I will feel soo much better when I read about Jacked Up Gold!


  • Mike Trecker

    June 30, 2009 at 7:44 am

    What was the trick? When coach was putting the needle in repeatedly he told you it was vitamins? Or they administered the juice while you were sleeping? Kuitunen is the last person I want to hear ideas from.

    – Let’s see, I think I’ll use my fame as a World Cup doper for a bully pulpit, I’ll be the bright light to help change the system.-


    We need more unilateral pressure for lifetime bans for anyone connected with cheating. Life bans for athletes and coaches with criminal charges and lifetime loss of licenses for any medical people involved. We need the risk to be greater than the reward.

    As far as chips: You’d still have to provide detailed plans so the testers can plan their moves. If an athlete can simply dodge the testers by an hour or two, then it won’t work. Hence, “surprise test”. Of course it’s invasive and a pain in the ass, if all you cheats wouldn’t have started this whole mess, and by the way Finland was one of the pioneers of all this crap, then we wouldn’t even be in this mess.

    The only words I want to hear from Kuitunen…”I’m retired”

  • Robert Duncan Douglas

    June 30, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Besides from getting an autologous transfusion(using your own banked blood, which still has additives to it.) What the heck is there that an athlete can take that is not detectable that would make such a difference that would be undetectable in an a couple of hours?? (HGH Undetectable so far)Maybe the athletes of the future will be genetically engineered super mutants. I have read about documented mutations that would be advantageous for sport. Who is to say that some Countries are not right now engineering the next champions??
    Are all athletes Guilty by association until proven innocent by participating in a rigorous anti-doping program??
    How can one become faster, stronger, fitter??
    Only people and Countries,Programs with a history of Cheating should be put under such scrutiny. That is my opinion.
    Even in athletics “criminals” (dopers, cheaters) tend towards recidivism.

  • christa case

    June 30, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    Granted Kutinen’s track record and the obvious privacy issues surrounding an implanted chip for top athletes give readers plenty of reason to scoff at her idea. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a number of national teams that are either implementing or tolerating systemic doping.
    But I would caution that the doping issue is actually a lot more complicated than many people realize. I can’t speak to Kuitinen’s case or specific national teams in nordic skiing, but after spending eight hours interviewing Don Catlin and his team in Los Angeles last summer – he and his deputy Caroline Hatton were the ones who discovered and proved the use of darbopoetin at the 2002 Olympics, busting Muehlegg and eventually resulting in Beckie Scott getting the gold medal – I realized doping is not as black and white as I’d thought.
    The EPO test, for example, seemed somewhat subjective – it’s just just boolean, yes or no you’re positive – it’s a little gray-scale rattlesnake tail-like image that depending on its pattern may or may not indicate EPO use.
    Nutritional supplement companies also have been found to include ingredients that are banned – intentionally or unintentionally – without properly disclosing that. So it is possible to unwittingly get certain traces into your system, from what I understand.
    Then there are all kinds of issues about how a lab handles urine samples – they don’t take it straight out of the tube and run it through a machine; it has to go through a complicated chemical process that takes at least a few hours before they even start testing.
    And then there are the differences in athletes’ natural values, which means that some athletes can be flagrantly doping and never get caught, and others will exceed allowed levels when they were totally clean – which is why the biological passport idea is being tried.
    None of this, of course, excuses athletes who try to cheat either during the off-season training period or during the competition period. But I do think it’s helpful to realize some of the nuances and challenges that remain before suggesting lifetime bans.
    Catlin, for his part, increasingly seems to think that it’s a total waste of time to chase the dopers. You can read more of his perspective in this profile I wrote about him last year: http://features.csmonitor.com/backstory/2008/08/04/qdope4/

  • nordic_dave

    June 30, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    BTW, “Dr. Douglas” one of my favorite all time best movies IS
    “Dr. Stranglove”. I still laugh so dang hard 40 years later after it was made. Ol Slim Pickens he had it going on! Peter Sellers by far his best acting job ever!

    But then again I was a Political Science major at CU/ Boulder in a lecture hall full of commie pinko’s.

    If you don’t know what I’m talking about…then you don’t know JACK!

  • Mike Trecker

    July 2, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    We’ve been realizing nuances and challenges in testing for nearly 50 years now, the problem is the cheats are realizing the nuances and challenges of cheating at a faster rate. I understand that lifetime bans are harsh, no kidding, but getting ripped off by a cheat is even harsher. Anyone else out there feel like the USST nearly earned a medal in the men’s relay 2002 at Salt Lake but we got robbed by the cheats that weren’t caught? Apologists come to the defense of the dopers all to often with the statement innocent until proven guilty, but what about all of the clean athletes that have been flat out robbed? These are the real innocent.

    1 year, 2 years, not nearly enough threat to be effective. As I write this, Alexander Vinokourov, master doper extraordinaire, is planning his return to Astana this summer as soon as his two years are up. 10 years to life and he’d be gone for good.

    Beyond the athletes however, the handlers need to feel the heat. Doctors, trainers etc. involved, lifetime loss of lisence and criminal charges. We need to get these unscrupulous doctors out of here.

  • caldxski

    July 2, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Excellent comments by Crista Case.

    A Euro friend of mine has suggested one solution: Don’t bother with doping controls because the pharmicists will always be one or two steps ahead of the testers and the forbidden list of drugs. Testing involves too many variables, too much litigation, too much detraction from the sport. By the way, the Europeans have little sympathy for our apparent reaction against doping, given our performances in track for so many years.

  • davord

    July 3, 2009 at 11:11 am

    To Dave Knoop, everybody’s doped up or “jacked up,” except him. The cold war is over Dave, no need to be bitter about Russians, just because they are way better than you ever have or will be, however old you may be. Do us a favor and go drink a brewski. I don’t see you blabbering about American track athletes or baseball players, and it seems that every week someone gets busted.

  • Mike Trecker

    July 6, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Tacit approval of PEDS would be a death sentence for modern sports. We can’t afford the “All Drug Olympics” scenario of Saturday Night Live fame. Just think if Muhlegg never got caught? Thanks Don Catlin, glad you were there and I shudder to think about the what ifs.

    Fair sportsmanship is genuine and true and a very important part of the human condition whereas cheating represents all that is wrong and bad. Think about when you were kids and what a pathetic loser the cheater was, desperate for attention and respect, yet earning none. We can’t now say that it’s allright to cheat. It doesn’t matter if the cheater is cutting the course, slipping an extra ace up their sleeve, or jacking up their blood with Darbopoetin, they are still cheats and losers and deserve nothing.

  • triguy

    July 6, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Thank you Mike. I find it very disturbing that one of our more respected coaches in the north american skiing world is calling for no drug testing as a possible solution to the issues with doping. Lets keep the pressure on and keep working for the honest hard working athletes.

  • nordic_dave

    July 7, 2009 at 12:57 am

    davord , Cold War over? Hmm interesting you must have seen the same thing Wya did when peering into Putin’s eyes. How very naive. The rest of your comments are, weak and pathetic.

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