The International Ski Federation (FIS) Doping Panel has ruled that the competition ban on Estonia’s Andrus Veerpalu will have to start from scratch. The three-year doping ban was originally set to end the day the 2014 Olympic Games concluded, but because he violated its terms this winter by testing skis for the Estonian team at the Otepää World Cup this January, the ban’s start date has been reset to January 21, 2012.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code stipulates that any participation in official competition or involvement with a team is in violation of a doping ban. An athlete found breaking the rule starts his ban over again from the date of infringement.
FIS permitted Veerpalu to explain the situation in writing before deciding to extend the punishment. The Estonian Ski Association tried to say that Veerpalu’s involvement with the team in January was unofficial — that he didn’t travel with the team and only helped out in Otepää because the races were essentially in his back yard.
FIS dismissed this defense, which ultimately wasn’t a surprise to the Estonian Ski Association according to a translated article from the Eesti Päevaleht.
Though Veerpalu announced his retirement from competitive skiing in 2011 before testing positive for elevated levels of human growth hormone, the Association’s Secretary General Margus Hernitsa said the revelation that Veerpalu can no longer be involved with his former team in any capacity is a setback for the 41-year-old champion, who is still a national hero to many fans in Estonia.
“He must carefully monitor what can and [cannot] do,” Hernitsa said. “Andrus may not perform any official role, can not be a coach, belong to a club or Association.”
Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.