Kalla defends Bjoergen from Kowalczyk attacks

Inge ScheveOctober 15, 201014

SWEDEN – A verbal war is still raging between the two queens of the Olympics, Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) and Marit Bjoergen (NOR), where the former repeatedly is accusing the latter of abusing asthma medicine. Now, Bjoergen is getting support from an unexpected place – the third Olympic queen, Charlotte Kalla (SWE), who is stepping in to defend the Norwegian from the recent attacks.

The 23-year-old Swede criticized the 27-year-old Kowalczyk, who claimed recently that Bjoergen, 30, is cheating her way to better results. And it’s not the first time that the Polish racer has lashed out at Bjoergen. Kowalczyk has publicly accused Bjoergen of doping several times. Charlotte Kalla is frustrated that Kowalczyk goes after Bjoergen for her asthma medicine yet again.

“That’s her own opinion. I don’t really want to waste my energy on this topic. There are so many other things that are so much more important,” Kalla told VG Nett.

“Someone said it really well: Nobody accuses you of doping if you have bad eyesight and use glasses. It doesn’t give you super-vision or any other advantage. Using glasses simply levels the playing field and lets you see as well as everyone else in the race,” said Kalla, leaving the interpretation up to the newspaper.

“Asthma medicines just fix a deficiency and bring everyone on a level playing field. I can’t determine whether this person or that person has asthma, that’s the physicians’ job, and Marit has her paperwork in order,” Kalla said.

When VG Nett met Kalla in Ramsau, Austria, she declined to discuss Kowalczyk’s attack on Bjoergen any further. Even Marit Bjoergen is tired of talking about her asthma medication, and the Norwegian Ski Association officials have shown documentation that her treatments are cleared.

Justyna Kowalczyk launched her attack on Bjoergen through the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza.

“I prepare for racing on the trails, not at the pharmacy,” Kowalczyk told the newspaper.

Bjoergen told the Norwegian newspaper Nettavisen that she has nothing to hide. “I don’t let this affect me. There is nothing fishy about this. I  have all my paperwork in order, and I’ve put this issue behind me.

One thing is certain: The 2011 World Championships in Oslo will be intense, and three of the Olympic gold medalists from Whistler 2010 are already getting warmed up.

From Langd.se, October 14, 2010 by Kjell Erik Kristiansen, 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

    October 15, 2010 at 8:10 am

    Nothing like stoking the fires—I’m sure Marit won’t have to deal with her motivation in her races against Kowalczyk.
    Kowalczyk flunks strategy and tactics for this winter and the snow isn’t even on the ground yet.

  • Lars

    October 15, 2010 at 8:58 am

    The way i understood it was that Kowalczyk wants focus on how these allowances are handed out, maybe have sertified Wada doctors so that evry athlete has to be judge by the same system. And personally id support that.

  • nexer

    October 15, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Proof that Kowalcyk isn’t doping. She obviously hasn’t studied up on her pharmaceuticals.

  • jo546

    October 15, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Let’s not forget: At the 2005 World Championships, Kowalczyk competed but was subsequently disqualified for doping offences committed at the Under23 (U23) OPA Intercontinental Cup competition in Oberstdorf, Germany back on January 23, 2005. On June 13, 2005, the FIS Doping Panel issued a two-year suspension (January 23, 2005 – January 22, 2007) for Kowalczyk for taking the banned substance dexamethasone

  • RonBott

    October 15, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    I’m amazed at the number of world class skiers who have permission to use asthma medication. When I think of someone with asthma I picture several kids I knew in middle school who would be coughing and wheezing after a couple flights of stairs. Who would have thought a disproportionate number of like individuals would become world class skiers.

  • highstream

    October 15, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Actually, Kowalczyk’s doping offense in U-23 competition was for using dexamethasone as an antiinflammatory after a knee injury or operation without getting official clearance. The original 2-year suspension was reduced to one year and then the remainder rescinded and left at 10-1/2 months by the CAS “on the merits of the case” (Jan 23 – Dec 8, 2005). Dexamethasone is a commonly used corticosteroid in medical and dental care, as well as believed to have performance enhancing effects.

    Kowalczyk is playing with fire trying to get into Bjoergen’s head, but her main point about standardization of asthma certification has some merit.

  • PSI

    October 16, 2010 at 5:54 am

    “Someone said it really well: Nobody accuses you of doping if you have bad eyesight and use glasses. It doesn’t give you super-vision or any other advantage. Using glasses simply levels the playing field and lets you see as well as everyone else in the race,” said Kalla…. But glasses – are not prohibited substances!!!

  • prairiekid

    October 16, 2010 at 11:07 am

    I don’t really care one way or the other when it comes to Asthma meds to treat a condition and the eye glasses seems like a good analogy. But when does level the playing field become cheating, what if my body does’t produce as much testosterone or hematocrit as the rest of the competitive field should I then be allowed to use it to level the playing field?

  • Tim Kelley

    October 16, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Eyeglasses aren’t absorbed by your blood stream. Asthma medicines are. Asthma medicines can easily be viewed as low level doping, that has yet to be banned.

  • Tim Kelley

    October 17, 2010 at 8:10 am

    By your logic EPO should be legal. After you are sick and your red blood cell count is down, then I suppose you would advocate EPO usage only to return the hemocrit level to “normal”, whatever that is. Your body is what it is. Anytime you use drugs or medication to enhance your performance it is a form of doping, whether it is currently legal or not. Asthma medication is most likely a loophole in the anti-doping banned substances list. Why else would so many ski races run to their doctor and get vouchers to become “asthmatics” these days. If WADA banned asthma medication I would bet the majority of “asthmatic” ski racers would be miraculously cured of their alleged health problems.

  • nexer

    October 17, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    The difference between EPO and asthma meds is that asthma meds cannot grow you elephant sized bronchii.

    Go find out for yourself. The next time you see someone with an inhaler why don’t you ask them for a hit? See if it enhances your performance.

  • gankstaskiz

    October 21, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    In response to RonBott, not all those with asthma are wheezing little fourth graders. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if the per capita amount of nordic prefessionals has one of the highest amounts of diagnosed asthma. Exercise-Induced Asthma, that is.

    Nordic skiing is the perfect sport for exercise-induced asthma to inflict it’s otherwise flawless athletes. EIA, as it’s called by the MAYO Clinic, is caused by the drying or cooling of the airways during heavy breathing….. Sounds a lot like what skiing entails..
    EIA is usually developed in athletes who repeatedly exercise in an aerobic capacity in cold, dry air. Yes some individuals are more susceptible than others, but when professional nordic athletes are constantly breathing hard in cold, dry conditions, it’s not hard to see why EIA takes hold.

    So let them use an inhaler for competition, and not be considered performance-enhancing. Heck, if I were at that level I’d want to know I beat them on one of their good days, not because they had an asthma attack halfway through and humped it in.

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