Actovegin Apparently Well Known in Eastern Europe

Inge ScheveSeptember 16, 20102

NORWAY – The Russian cross-country skier Nikolay Pankratov was reportedly held up on the Swiss border last week when customs officials found intravenous equipment and 22 vials of the substance Actovegin in his car. Former Norwegian biathlon team director Kjell Ove Oftedal is surprised that the substance is not currently on the doping list.

“I think WADA should at least declare whether the substance is legal or not. If it’s not illegal, you can’t single out athletes publicly like what is now happening to Pankratov…I had never heard of the substance, but apparently, the drug is well known in Eastern Europe,” Oftedal said to the Norwegian newspaper Adresseavisen.

Anti-doping expert Ingard Lereim, M.D., says to Norwegian national TV station NRK that Actovegin is a substance intended to increase or improve the effect of blood doping.

“Additionally, Actovegin is said to help speed up the recovery of overuse injuries. But we don’t know how widespread its use is,” the exercise physiologist told

Russian national team manager, Yuri Charkovsky, told Adresseavisen that he knows nothing about the Pankratov case.

“He is not a part of our team. He is not on the national A-team or the national B-team,” Charkovsky said.

However, Pankratov has been a part of the Russian national team for several years. He recently said in an interview with that he thinks Russia should be more open to other countries’ training philosophies.

“In Russia, we’ve done the same things for 20 years. We travel to the same places, we run the same loops, and do the same roller ski courses. There are a lot of other really nice places in Russia to have training camps, but we always go to the same places,” Pankratov says.

But language barriers make it hard for the Russians to approach other nations. Oftedal recalls that the Russian coaches and team staff would say “hello” at the range, and that was the extent of the contact he would have with the Russian team. Pankratov is one of very few Russian skiers who speak English.

“There are a lot of athletes and coaches who want to talk with the Russians, but we don’t speak English. That is a huge problem for us,” Pankratov said to in an interview with the web site at the end of August.

From, September 15, 2010 By Ola Jordheim Halvorsen, translation by Inge Scheve

Inge Scheve

Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.

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  • Martin Hall

    September 16, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Actovegin is used for injury repair such as Tiger Woods did for his knee rehab—traveling to Canada to receive injections of Actovegin from a Dr Anthony Galea. The process is suppose to deliver more oxygen to the injury and speed up recovery.
    I find it hard to believe that a person in Offedal’s position hasn’t heard of Actovegin—and Pankratov is being held for the IV paraphernalia he was also caught with. WADA and FIS will sanction him on these grounds as it is illegal to have this in your possession.
    One other thing that should be talked about, is. Why is Pankratov not on the National Team—he was a member of the 2010 Russian Olympic Team and started the relay for them and also competed in the Pursuit—that was just 6 months ago! How did he not make the National Team for this year—and the spokes people for the Russian SA are sure distancing themselves from this guy.
    Put him in jail or sanction him for 2 years.
    Also, another thing—is how quiet FIS is being as related to previous articles by Faster Skier—I think they want this to go away real fast, so they don’t have to sanction the Russian SA as Casper, FIS Pres., said a few days ago.
    Just another day of doping in Russia—we should be use to it by now—over 40 years and counting.

  • FasterSkier

    September 17, 2010 at 4:29 am

    In regards to Pankratov’s National Team status, check out his results. He will be 28 in December, and while a solid top 30 skier, we was not a strong top-10 threat, and therefore was not competing for medals.

    Russia seems to be interested in skiers who can win races, or have a good shot to do so in the near future.

    Pankratov actually fits a profile of some one who might turn to doping. A skier who is getting older, is still a level below the top, and has been removed from the National Team. Perhaps desperation was a motivating force?

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