A second athlete has not been paid more than $2,000 U.S. dollars owed to him under International Ski Federation (FIS) rules.
When Russian cross-country skier Evgeni Dementiev was suspended for doping in 2009, FIS rules called for the redistribution of 4,375 Swiss francs in prize money that he won at that year’s edition of the Tour de Ski, after testing positive for performance-enhancing drug use. But in an e-mail to FasterSkier, Czech skier Lukas Bauer, who should have received 2,187 Swiss francs as a result, said that the funds had not reached him.
“I never received additional money after Dementiev was disqualified,” Bauer said. “ I was never contacted by FIS or Tour de Ski organizers about this problem…We will see later, but I don’t expect any miracles.”
The news comes less than a week after FasterSkier reported that Finnish skier Sami Jauhojaervi also had not received prize money owed to him—another 2,187 Swiss francs, or roughly $2,200 U.S.
In a brief phone interview Monday afternoon, FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis dismissed questions about the prize money, saying that they were unwarranted.
“The process is very straightforward, from the point of view of the funds being available,” she said. “You don’t need to be concerned that the matter isn’t being dealt with.”
But in an e-mail sent later in the afternoon, FIS Anti-Doping Administrator Sarah Fussek acknowledged that there had been a delay in the redistribution of the money after Dementiev’s sanction was handed down. She said that the situation was in the process of being corrected.
“It appears there was an administrative lapse in handling the necessary transfers from the Russian Ski Association account to the Finnish and Czech accounts after the decision was taken by the FIS Doping Panel,” Fussek said, noting that neither Bauer, Jauhojaervi, nor their respective ski associations had taken the issue up with FIS in the interim. “In any case, the prize money is at their disposal through their National Ski Association.”
According to Lewis, her organization interacts solely with these national ski associations—not with individual athletes.
“The member associations are the only people with whom FIS can have any actual dealings, according to our statutes,” she said.
Under FIS rules, each national ski association must have in place legal agreements that provide for the “immediate return” of any prize money earned after an athlete tests positive.
“The national ski associations are really responsible for the conduct of all their athletes—if we were to have somebody that had a doping violation, FIS would essentially just send us a bill for the prize money,” said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) Vice President for Athletics Luke Bodensteiner in an interview. “I can understand their position, because they’re dealing with however many different nations there are, and different legal systems.”
All members of the U.S. Ski Team, for example, must sign a contract with USSA that guarantees any prize money forfeited in the event of a doping violation, Bodensteiner said.
After the money is collected from the national ski association of the offending athlete, FIS passes it on to the national ski associations of the athletes to whom it is due—in Dementiev’s case, from the Russians to the Czechs and Finns.
Dementiev tested positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO in the sixth stage of the Tour de Ski in January, 2009, but because of hurdles in the legal process, he was not officially suspended until the following November.
That left him free to finish the 2008-2009 racing season, and Dementiev’s ninth-place overall finish in the Tour de Ski garnered him 4,375 Swiss francs—the only prize money he would earn before the end of the year.
A former Olympic champion, Dementiev’s ban expires in November of 2011. News recently broke in the Russian media that he is planning a return to the sport next year.
Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for FasterSkier, who also covers city government for the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. You can follow him on twitter @nat_herz.