On April 14, the International Ski Federation (FIS) announced former Estonian cross-country skier Andrus Veerpalu was found guilty by the CAS Anti-Doping Division. Veerpalu was involved with “Operation Aderlass”, a blood doping scheme run by Dr. Marc Schmidt in Germany. Veerpalu’s penalty is a two-year ban from FIS sanctioned events ending on March 17, 2023.
Now retired from skiing, the fifty-year-old Veerpalu in recent years has served as a coach for team “Haanja” in Estonia. According to FIS, the ruling states Veerpalu violated Article 2.9 of the 2016 FIS Anti-Doping Rules which is defined as, “Assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, conspiring, covering up or any other type of intentional complicity involving an anti-doping rule violation, Attempted anti-doping rule violation or violation of Article 10.12.1 by another person.”
(No official CAS ruling regarding the current Veerpalu case is available on the CAS website. We will link to the ruling when it becomes available.)
In light of the FIS announcement, ERR news in Estonian reported today that Veerpalu has been stripped of two prestigious national awards. Since his 2002 Olympic gold in the 15 k classic, Veerpalu has been revered as a national hero.
Veerpalu is a two-time Olympic champion. Along with his 2002 Olymoic win, he won another gold in 2006. He also won a silver medal in the 2002 Olympic 50 k and two World Championship gold medals. Kris Freeman, an American cross-country skier, lost out on a medal in the 2009 championship 15 k classic, a race won by Veerpalu.
This is not the first time Veerpalu’s name has been associated with doping. In 2013, he was acquitted on a technicality after an adverse analytical finding (AAF) in both his A and B samples for recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) back in 2011.
Team “Hannja” athletes also serving doping penalties for their involvement in “Operation Aderlass” include Karel Tammjärv, Algo Kärp, Kazakhstan’s Alexey Poltoranin, coach Mati Alaver, and Veerpalu’s son, Andreas Veerpalu.
The medical mastermind of “Operation Aderlass”, Dr. Schmidt is currently serving a nearly five-year prison sentence after being found guilty of breaking Germany’s strict anti-doping laws.
“Operation Aderlass” made international news back when at the 2019 Seefeld, Austria World Championships several athletes, including Austria’s Dominik Baldauf and Maz Hauke, were arrested for “blood doping”.
We are linking two articles from the FasterSkier archives. One explores Estonian cross-country skiing, the other examines the elder Veerpalu’s first doping case from a 2011 perspective.
Jason lives in Bend, Ore., and can often be seen chasing his two boys around town. He’s a self-proclaimed audio geek. That all started back in the early 1990s when he convinced a naive public radio editor he should report a story from Alaska’s, Ruth Gorge. Now, Jason’s common companion is his field-recording gear.