Finnish Newspaper Ilta Sanomat reports that cross-country skier Juha Lalluka (FIN) has tested positive for human growth hormone (HGH).
Lalluka’s A-sample came back positive—B-sample results are pending.
Lalluka, a relative unknown on the international race scene, has made occasional appearances at elite events, including last year’s World Championships where he placed an impressive eighth in the 50k freestyle, and skied the fastest third leg of the relay, tagging to teammate Matti Heikkinen in first place. The team ultimately finished fourth.
Known as somewhat of a “lone-wolf” in regards to training, according to Norwegian television commentator Torgeir Bjørn, Lalluka is considered innocent of all charges until the B-sample test is complete.
According to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, Lallukka has not participated in national team activities since last season, and Finnish Head Coach Magnar Dalen gave assurance that the current National squad is clean.
“I can guarantee that the team has behaved properly,” Langrenn.com reports Dalen as saying.
Dalen expressed hope that Lalluka’s B-sample would come back clean, but if it doesn’t, that all involved with the doping incident come forward.
“If an athlete is caught doping, he never operates alone,” Dalen said. “There must also be people in the background and they must come forward.”
If Lalluka is indeed guilty of doping, it will be a significant blow to a Finnish program that seemed to have finally recovered from the doping scandal of 2001. With relatively young stars such as Matti Heikkinen, Kristen Lahteenmaki and Sami Jauhojärvi providing consistent top results, the program appeared to have rebounded from an incident that resulted in six athletes being convicted for doping violations at the World Championships in Lahti.
Dalen called for a swift resolution to the issue, saying “If we want other countries and the cross-country community to believe that we are doing things properly, we must investigate single cases of doping thoroughly and quickly.”
FIS Anti-Doping Administrator Sarah Fussek referred all questions on the matter to the Finnish Ski Association.