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 nrk.no.
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 Langrenn.com 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 Langrenn.com in an interview with the web site at the end of August.
From Langrenn.com, September 15, 2010 By Ola Jordheim Halvorsen, translation by 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.