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Discussion: McLaren Report on Russian Doping

in: Orienteering; General

Dec 10, 2016 3:37 AM # 
The final report of the WADA investigation into sports doping in Russia has been published. A searchable electronic documentary package has been released, and there are no results from a search of 'orienteering' or 'foot orienteering', but there are results for 'ski orienteering' and 'mountain bike orienteering'.

It's impossible to know who the offenders are until either the Russian Orienteering Federation or IOF decides to take action on the report.
Dec 10, 2016 4:35 AM # 
There weren't enough Russians at WMTBOC to elevate me into the top 30.
Dec 10, 2016 5:05 AM # 
A (not-particularly-high-profile) Russian ski orienteer was done for doping (at World Military Champs if I remember rightly) a couple of years ago.
Dec 10, 2016 5:13 AM # 
You noted MTBO riders?
Dec 10, 2016 5:21 PM # 
This is a well-known politically-motivated witch-hunt, rather old, escalated by globalists during pre-election weeks, to stir russophobia. Obama vowed to "punish" Russia and "wicked dictator Putin" via American leverage in international organizations, including sport ones. Since then it was revealed that athletes from UK and USA got unprecedented number of permits for so-called medical drug use, far exceeding common-sense, de facto legalizing doping.
Dec 11, 2016 2:12 AM # 
How dare you accuse the USA of stirring up international relations purely for political or economical gains. I won't hear of it!
Dec 11, 2016 3:25 PM # 
Big Jon:
Yurets, you're speaking posh. I agree others may well be at it but the Russian doping was at a higher organisational level than most (reminiscent of the old USSR and East German programmes in the 70-80's)
Dec 11, 2016 9:13 PM # 
Yurets , are you saying that the Russians didn't cheat or are you saying that they cheated but that's ok because other people cheat too?
Dec 11, 2016 9:56 PM # 
Russian propaganda (RT) is as bad as during Stalin's times - if you don't write something favouring your dictator - an accident will happen.

Over 80 murdered journalists since 1990 can't be wrong - they learn real fast. It's the most dangerous job occupation in Russia.

Yurets show us some real data.
Dec 12, 2016 1:03 AM # 
Here is some real data

Is 14-legged killer squid found TWO MILES beneath Antarctica being weaponised by Putin?
Dec 12, 2016 3:33 AM # 
I thought yurets' first post was intended as satire, now I'm convinced it is!

Seriously though, it doesn't matter how many others around the world cheat, if Russia wants to regain entry to the olympics and world championships it will have to own up and reform.
Dec 16, 2016 10:16 AM # 
IOF statement just released:
Dec 16, 2016 3:06 PM # 
So the IOF has confidence in Russian orienteering athletes and organizers.
What I want to know, is there any evidence of doping by our favorite Russian mappers?
Dec 17, 2016 3:02 AM # 
All Russian mappers have TUE to drink vodka in the morning instead of breakfast.
Dec 18, 2016 12:09 AM # 
"All Russian mappers have TUE to drink vodka in the morning instead of breakfast." Ta.
Dec 18, 2016 6:54 PM # 
A comment on the IOF statement
Dec 19, 2016 2:22 AM # 
Yep, doping in orienteering is quite real. I recall in 1990s elite Scandinavians were dying in droves from OD, "suddenly", before they figured it out. Their was even a term coined for it, I do not remember details...
Dec 19, 2016 3:12 AM # 
That, I believe, is a massive exaggeration. More like, one death that was explained away with a dubious-sounding story, that could have been related to doping, though there was never any evidence of it.
Dec 19, 2016 6:48 AM # 
I hope that all the crooks involved in doping scandal will be in jail. No matter where they hide from the justice today.
Also, I hope this scandal will not affect the innocent Russian orienteers and IOF events organizers in Russia as well as thousands of orienteering lovers across the country.
Punish only those who are guilty.
Dec 19, 2016 8:21 AM # 
Oleg >> how will my proposed way forward punish those who are not guilty?
Yurets >> classic Russian approach on scepticism toward russian sports. Comments like yours only adds to my scepticism towards Russia and Russian sports.
Dec 19, 2016 10:06 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
@yurets: You are talking about the TWAR scare, where a few supposedly healthy elite athletes died suddenly: The TWAR bacteria was never proven to be the cause but I was still an elite runner in those days and I am certain nobody in Norwegian orienteering even considered doping.
Dec 19, 2016 10:10 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
I have read both the first and second McLaren report; imho any athlete who handed in clean "backup" urine samples should be banned, so should every single official who took part in this farce.
Dec 19, 2016 10:51 AM # 
I am certain nobody in Norwegian orienteering even considered doping.
That's what everyone said about Lance Armstrong. So Russians would obviously dope but Norwegians, never. I can see why the Russians on this thread are a little upset.

The TWAR thing: it was mostly Swedish elite orienteers who died. SOFT cancelled a whole season of elite competitions one year and conducted an official investigation. As I recall the report said it was fairly certain TWAR was to blame and there was no mention at all of any suspicion of doping gone wrong. Of course there was talk around at the time that the report was just a coverup but there was never any real evidence for that. The series of deaths of elite orienteers in Scandinavia did get a passing mention in (I think) a newspaper article by Andrew Jennings (author of 'The Lords of the Rings: Power, Money and Drugs in the Modern Olympics') and he simply stated it as a fact that they were doping related. It was just one or two lines and no evidence was offered.
Dec 19, 2016 11:52 AM # 
The discussion above revealed history I was only vaguely aware of. Went on a search and am none the wiser.
Dec 19, 2016 12:00 PM # 
Dec 19, 2016 12:23 PM # 
this is the newspaper article (I was wrong about the author)

the relevant section:

In hindsight we can date the clandestine arrival of EPO with grim accuracy. Orienteering is a mixture of cross-country running and walking, popular in Scandinavia. Between 1989 and 1992, seven young Swedish orienteering enthusiasts died mysteriously. They may well have learned about the magic potion from cyclists. Between 1987 and 1990, no fewer than 20 Belgian and Dutch cyclists died from otherwise inexplicable nocturnal heart attacks. You don't need to be Sherlock, with or without his syringe, to guess what was going on.
Dec 19, 2016 2:50 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
@robplow: "Follow the Money!"

The reason I'm pretty sure there was no doping is due to the fact that there was absolutely no money available for orienteers in Norway, even the elite national team runners were losing money every year: The way they survived was by living on student loans and taking longer to finish their studies.

This is a _long_ way away from professional cycling where cheaters can become $ millionaires.
Dec 19, 2016 3:10 PM # 
Mr Wonderful:
A ton of amateur triathletes, runners, and cyclists cheat - what about orienteering makes its participants inherently more virtuous?

If you insist I should link evidence for other sports, I will, but google will get you there as fast if you need proof. Easiest place to start: German amateur triathlete doping
Dec 19, 2016 3:11 PM # 
Its not about $$, it's about the ego.
Given how easy it seems to get these drugs it would be crazy to believe it hasn't made it into all levels of sport now.
Dec 19, 2016 3:16 PM # 
Terje, I tend to agree with you. In terms of systematic doping at least.

I just meant you need to be a bit careful how you phrase it - some people are getting a upset about this discussion and might interpret your comment as suggesting Norwegian moral superiority, or Russian moral inferiority - which is not helpful.

And the money argument still holds - there is now more than back then but still not much. And anyway most orienteers (at least in 'western' countries) come from relatively affluent backgrounds and are well educated so there is not as much need to make money from the sport.

And, it's all very well to say the IOF should do more OOC testing (with a particular focus on Russians) but testing is expensive. I doubt the IOf has the resources to do more. Is there any reason to suspect there is a doping problem in orienteering, or more specifically among Russian orienteers (apart from 'other Russian sports were doing it')?
Dec 19, 2016 3:51 PM # 
I'd be interested to hear if there were actually seven names. The only one I ever heard, the one that brought up the whole TWAR thing, was Melker Karlsson. Were there other deaths? Some of this was also based on analogy to the spate of EPO deaths among Belgian cyclists shortly before that, but I was recently told that research has demonstrated that the whole Belgian thing is a myth.
Dec 19, 2016 5:25 PM # 
Karlsson was the most famous (Swedish National Team member) but there were several others (I don't know exactly how many) preceding Karlsson
whose deaths were blamed on TWAR or continuing to train hard when unwell.

research has demonstrated that the whole Belgian thing is a myth . . .
which suggests the theory that the orienteers were doping is also a myth. The rather ill informed description of orienteering in the NYT article doesn't invite much faith in the author's reliability .
Dec 19, 2016 7:21 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
I know I'm probably sounding a bit naive here, but I do believe very strongly that there was absolutely no doping in Norwegian orienteering in the 1980-1990 time period when we totally dominated the men's class.

I knew and still know all of those guys, my brother made it all the way into the national team at one point, and I still compete against most of them.

I just came back from an 8-day sailing trip in the Carribean: 172 people, almost all orienteers including a number of former world champions. If one or more of them managed to actually get access to a banned substance and use it, then I'd rather not know about it since I count them as my friends.

I realize that a lot of americans seem to feel the same way about Mr Armstrong, and that there are people from the former East block who seem to believe that everyone is doping and that it is therefore unfair to only catch the Russians.

As I said, I might well be naive but I prefer staying that way until I see any evidence that Norwegian runners try to cheat.
Dec 19, 2016 8:15 PM # 
I agree with Terje that any Norwegian runner who might have gotten herself dq'ed at WOC In the 90s wasnt trying to cheat, but it's not a great starting point for taking the moral high ground against the Russians.

Across the border in Sweden, the TWAR story never made any sense, and people go on training when ill. JJs idea that 7 isn't a big number is just about credible, but the time was surely ripe for experimenting with EPO.

Russians doping is big news,. but each Olympics they win fewer medals. Doesn't that seem odd?
Dec 20, 2016 2:26 AM # 
Don't get me wrong, I think 7 is a big number. I'm not so convinced that 1 is a big number, though. Is it 7? Who are the other six? I should be up front about the fact that, at the time, I was one of the voices saying out loud that the TWAR story was hogwash. And at the time, I thought the indications pointed strongly to EPO. Looking back, I still think TWAR is hogwash, but I'm more of the opinion that if there was just one case, it could be randomness. Although I still think it's weird that SOFT reacted the way they did, coming up with this ridiculous TWAR story and cancelling the season.

Doping is happening at strange levels without financial motivation, though. My brother was telling me about a Master's cyclist who is apparently doping in order to get King of the Mountain stats on Strava. WTF?
Dec 20, 2016 3:39 AM # 
There is a litany of articles suggesting doping and cheating in amateur athletics. Here is just one, but they are legion:

Of course, one could argue that orienteering is not a serious amateur sport, and therefore the Garden of Eden of Norwegian Orienteering in the 1980s probably is actually true, besides being wishful thinking.

There is no cheating in orienteering. No one would dope. There are no incentives. (Channeling my inner Karl Popper here, in case you need a hint.)
Dec 20, 2016 7:13 AM # 
According to the peer review lit I cited above, the number was 16 elite Swedish orienteers.
"During 1992-93 sera from 1790 Swedish elite orienteers were tested for antibodies to Chlamydia pneumoniae. The reason for this was that a cluster of 16 cases of sudden unexpected cardiac death had occurred among Swedish orienteers and DNA from C. pneumoniae had been found in the myocarditic heart and in the lung in 1 of 2 deceased athletes in whom testing was feasible; in addition, C. pneumoniae IgG was found in all 5 cases where serum was available."
Presumably this comes from clinical reports rather than sporting annals.
Dec 20, 2016 7:28 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
Doping is indeed a problem here in Norway as well, but almost totally isolated to body building and weight lifting, including lots and lots of amateurs who "just want to look good". :-(

Back in the days I used to think that the early (xc skiing) EPO (or blood packing) dopers were quite obvious: They were the people who (almost) never hit the podium during the season but managed to "peak" for the first championship week, typically fading so that they were beatable again by the time of the final 50 k.

Over a period of many years Oddvar BrĂ¥ seemed destined to become the best xc skier in the world never to win a championship, I was very glad when he finally did so after winning the overall World Cup several years.
Dec 20, 2016 8:16 AM # 
Just to get back to the actual topic, the McLaren report. The hits in the database referred to by Simmo (post #1) were not actually for "ski orienteering" or "mountain bike orienteering". Typing "ski" or "mountain bike" produces the same result, and those are the operative words in the database. Orienteering is not referenced in any of the documents released so far.
Dec 20, 2016 9:34 AM # 
TyrTom you could be right, it depends how the search facility works. If it operates on the basis of producing a result for any word in a string, then all forms of 'orienteering' are in the clear. The only way to test this would be to troll through the 247 pages of emails in the search result pdf.

Terje the period you mention was 1980-1990. EPO was not available until 1985 and probably not in quantities able to be procured by athletes until 1986. So your friends in the first 6 years of your elite period could not have used it. Prior to EPO there was blood doping, so that is a possibility, but apparently Finland was where this was more prevalent (Lasse Viren era, although he has never admitted it - interesting discussion here).

I don't believe that orienteering would be seen as a sport worthy of attention by the medicos who were peddling EPO - assuming they'd even heard of it.

The C. pneumoniae theory re TWAR sounds credible to me.
Dec 20, 2016 11:01 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
@simmo: Re the time period: Blood doping was the classic approach, then EPO gave even better results with much less hazzle. :-(

I think it was possible that the TWAR deaths were in fact caused by people who had trained hard while suffering from infections, leading to secondary heart failure.
Somewhat later Jon Tvedt, one of the fittest guys in Norway ever, died while on a training run in Bergen with a pair of friends.

He was the guy who had _all_ the records for steep uphill races, he used to train up Stoltzekleiven while carrying his young daughter in a back harness. Stoltzen is so steep that most people need to take breaks while just walking up...

This discussion thread is closed.