Apparently Rudnaya was best non-Chinese woman beaten by 6 minutes on a 33 minute course. Rudnaya, Mironova, Novikova and Roos did 39-41 minutes, while two Chinese did 33 and 35 minutes.
This looks unbelievable on multiple dimensions. Does anybody have any details? Results for men?
According to some tweets from Finnish clubs, the entire Chinese team had been disqualified, with accusations such as: runners pre-running courses multiple times, markings in the terrain leading then to controls, and runners not running the entire course. (On the men's side, Kyburz still won, with a Chinese athlete in 2nd and Howald in 3rd.)https://twitter.com/jarkko/status/1185848379563229...
It is a very interesting situation: how can one prove that they ran the course before?
"runners not running the entire course" - a new version of "one man relay"? ;-)
Here one can find the results for women. The winner ran close to a "superwoman"https://results.wuhan2019mwg.cn/index.htm#/sport/e...
Here are the men. Legs 7-8 and 9-10 look particularly interesting where a few could gain a lot over the top guys. (edit: it might have been part of a phi loop)https://results.wuhan2019mwg.cn/index.htm?fbclid=I...
If it's true that there were markings in the terrain leading to some controls then presumably the only option is to void the course, given that there is no way of knowing whether any other athletes spotted the markings mid-course and benefited from them.
This is also a fun read:https://news.cgtn.com/news/2019-10-14/-Post-90s-or...
Looking forward to watching the World Cup Final next weekend.
I heard what Boris heard from Finns today and came here looking for more details.
The Swiss team's press release confirms that the entire Chinese team was disqualified, so Rudnaya is the winner of the women's race.
"Therefore, knowing how to read a map matters a lot" explained Tao Dezhou
Interesting insight - explains what's been missing in my orienteering technique for the last 45 years.
So happy the US didn't even consider sending a team.
"Therefore, knowing how to read a map matters a lot" explained Tao Dezhou
Interesting insight - explains what's been missing in my orienteering technique for the last 45 years.
I can't resist, Hawkeye: you need to change your AP handle. :-)
Maybe his orienteering technique is to randomly run around the bush and spot controls from far off.
This is why I'm skeptical about the Olympics. They are a matter of pride for many countries, and with the stakes so high, this is the type of shenanigans we would see with orienteering. Good luck trying to enforce an embargo.
Seems to me it has already happened at the Olympics in the past with Chinese athletes pre-swimming the pool course.
Its CISM right? "The fog of war".
When China hosted a 2-day A meet in 1996 before Hong Kong's APOC event, elite runners from Hong Kong said that they would hear a whistle coming from a control when a Chinese runner was getting close to it. (All or many of the controls were manned.) No official verification of that, but that still wouldn't help a runner who couldn't get within close enough range of a control based on their own ability, so if that was the case it would have made sense for the Chinese runners to pre-run the courses as well.
Cheating in orienteering is nothing new. I recall that massive "mystery" death of Swedish elite around 1989, when doping went bad.
@yurets, still to this day it was not confirmed it was doping. One could argue a heart failure... But as you said, its a mystery
@yurets interestingly I spoke to someone who is Swedish (not an orienteer) and she said that they know it as the "forest sickness". Outside of Scandanavia it's assumed to have been doping.
Only one of them was elite, rest were not, at all. Young people, student or young adults with day job, training barely half of he amount elites do. I believe best of the rest were about my level at the time, barely ranked top 100 in Sweden. I can confirm no doping needed to get to that level, neither to became a lot better. Back then I found it is simply impossible to believe they were using doping, they just were not elite enough, not even close. I still think the same way. I'd say they were just as good as you typically get if you happen to be born in Scandinavia and end up starting the sport as a kid. This may reflect what MCrone write, outside Scandinavia people easily see such orienteers as genuine elite athletes making it easy to suspect doping, here we see them as just regular young adults with healthy sporty hobby. Not exactly the type of group I would expect to dope - at least not to become better orienteers. Hearing it's commonly assumed to have been doping makes me really sad.
That is a very welcome reaction from the IOF on Chinese cheating. Let's hope that it results in further action!
I didn't realize there were others besides Melker Karlsson. He was the one who appeared to fit the profile.
Soooo, the IOF article explaining what happened has been removed.
From a IOF comment on an IOF Facebook post: "We will re-publish it with result updates.
The key part remains: Keeping our sport fair is our top priority."
It probably shouldn't have come down in the first place though. You can update an article without taking it down first....
Unless you've decided that what was originally posted was inaccurate enough that it shouldn't be there until it can be straightened out. Or if somebody is making accusations of libel.
The above mentioned whistles at manned controls possibly had their debut many years ago, I certainly remember rumours about possible irregularities at JWOC 1991 in Berlin...
The IOF article is up now, with a note saying that it has been updated to reflect the fact that the results are not yet official and medals have not yet been awarded.
I ran in JWOC 1991, and don't recall any irregularities - perhaps I wasn't listening well enough. (Probably too late to retrospectively disqualify any of the people who put me out of the short distance final by a few seconds...).
It's worth noting, as the IOF statement says, that military and civilian orienteering in China are totally separate, and nobody from the CISM team is competing in the World Cup. I certainly hope for a clean event and have seen nothing in my involvement so far to indicate that it will not be, but obviously we're well aware of the issues and have plans in place (the specifics of which I'm not going to advertise here) to minimise the risk of any issues happening at the World Cup.
"seen nothing in my involvement so far"
Which means nothing at all. They are hardly likely to tell you if they are showing maps and courses to runners, nor are the runners likely to be pre-running courses while the SEA is around.
The caveat was there. "so far".
Obviously the controller for CISM saw nothing to indicate foul play either, until during and after the race.
In the IOF announcement there is mention of help from spectators and secret markings but no mention of runners seeing maps beforehand or pre-running courses, which has been alleged in other reports.
The latter would be very hard to prove. And very easy to get away with (in any country - not just China) if those involved keep their mouths shut and don't make it too obvious - ie don't do so well that it is obvious you cheated. It only takes one person with access to the maps and courses to 'leak'.
I would be interested to know how you could possibly guard against that.
Maybe they post their runs on Strava :-)
It happens ...https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/28/fitn...
To run 6 minutes quicker than Rudnaya et al (on a 33 min course) they must've been hammering it with absolute certainty as to where they were going, not just relying on a bit of help from friendly spectators
Rob, an idea, based on the unintended early publication of courses at - uh, was it EOC? - in Portugal a few years ago.
There, they produced new courses overnight, while retaining the existing master control map I recall. So if the controlling body suspects something in advance and has some time and resources, shadow course planning could be done.
And yes, sorry, I realise this doesn't answer your question on how to prove it when it happens.
Interesting post from Gustav Bergman
, current leader in the men's 2019 World Cup. We know that China doesn't respond well to such criticisms, so let's see what happens.
Good on him, I say, but I don't envy Blair possibly having to deal with repercussions if the hosts decide to take any action against Gustav.
"It's worth noting, as the IOF statement says, that military and civilian orienteering in China are totally separate, and nobody from the CISM team is competing in the World Cup."
At the event I mentioned back in 1996, while it was a civilian event, the principal organizers were senior military personnel, a bunch of them with "General" before their names. I see from the World Cup event bulletin that's no longer the case.
So I guess those disqualifications were just fake news?
Disqualifications? The Chinese just disappeared from the results.
Wow hillanddale, indeed. All others who for some reason have DSQ next to their names are still on the list and still have DSQ next to their name. But I guess only those with honorable reasons for DSQ get to remain on the list for all to see the DSQ, but not the dishonorable DSQs.....
This is getting real exciting :-)
Will the IOF act on those "rumours" that may "taint the image" of the perfect games organised by the People’s Liberation Army of China, or quickly forget about all this nonsense of investigating Chinese athletes who were never there? ;-)
Were never there? Maybe never even existed. Some governments can make all records of a person vanish.
There were no Chinese orienteers at the competition. There have never been Chinese orienteers at the competition. There will never be Chinese orienteers at the competition.
Until there are. Then there will always have been Chinese orienteers at the competition. (Shouldn't the IOF insist they also be listed in the results as DSQ?)
Very strange indeed. IOF did everything right with clear rules and processes of posting the official results. So what went wrong. Apparently somebody else did a dirty job here on the behalf of president, council, commission, IOF office or SEA. Who cares? People saw what happened and here we are. Who is clean here.... ahhhh
In a strange way I feel for the Chinese orienteering athletes. I remember as a teen in a communist country not really wanting to compete in the military competitions of high school groups, as the navigator of the team, but then they would not have allowed me to have excused absences for real orienteering, and unexcused absences were really bad... shame will probably be the least of their worries now.
The story has hit Fox News
And lots of other MSM now, The Guardian, others.
Comments on Fox News is the best part of the story.
I liked this one : " They [ i.e. the members of the Chinese team] are about to commit the Chinese version of Arkancide "
Is this how orienteering achieves worldwide fame?
Yes, perhaps a case of "There's no such thing as bad publicity."?
But I cant help but think that for the next 20 years it's going to be - "Oh, you do orienteering? Didn't some Chinese guys get disqualified for cheating in that a few years ago?"
My favorite comment on the Fox News article: "Wait, what? So there's a world competition for geocaching? I want to play!"
I like the sub headline in the Guardian article "Athletes lose moral compass"https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/24/chin...
That last one is sobering. "We want fairness. There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat."
"Prior to the medal ceremony for the relays, medals were finally placed around the right winners’ necks for the middle distance competition held on October 20th. The results list was final only earlier in the morning after the withdrawal of the Chinese team from the Event."
"Athletes lose moral compass"
Orienteering is now a contest. Obviously the contest is to see if you can cheat without getting caught.
This is not how I hoped military orienteering would become more famous.
And as someone who was very excited and happy to see China hosting CISM and participating in orienteering, I am majorly dismayed w/ this wildly flagrant and audaciously unsportsmanlike conduct.
Such behavior should be far beneath an athlete...especially an athlete who serves their country in the profession of arms.
Above all it runs completely opposite of the whole intent of CISM which is "friendship through sport." Very disappointing.
I agree. Yet CISM pinned their colours firmly on the side of the cheating Chinese in their press release. That is even more disappointing and sends a dangerous message.
Gustav Bergman has won the Middle Distance race, so (vis-a-vis my earlier post) that's a bit of a slap in the face for China, though there's still no sign that they have seen his blog.
He’s still got to get out of the country!
The results today might have raised the odd eyebrow, although it shouldn't really have come as that much of a surprise that someone who's had a decent, if sporadic, international career (including a 10th at WOC) can win a race on home terrain unfamiliar to pretty well everyone else in the field except the locals - the Chinese race on this type of urban terrain all the time, and I think it's telling that their best splits were generally in the most intense village-type areas. I don't see as it being that much different to, say, Lizzie running 3rd in Wellington in 2013 (and as far as I know nobody is accusing Lizzie of doing anything untoward).
The main reason I'm confident that courses didn't leak was that they were finalised so late - indeed, in the case of the sprint, we were still making substantive changes up until last week and then the final change to the map (a new forbidden area which affected route choice) at 10pm last night. The printing was done sometime in the middle of the night. There was also pretty strict control over who had what; as far as I know, the only local who had access to near-final courses was the national controller. Doing things to the maps and courses at the last minute carries its risks, but it did have its positives in this situation.
(One negative to late changes, of course, is that it means that some things don't get checked as much as one would like. The main issue here was the final part of the middle course, which was added at the last minute after we lost access to our original planned arena a few weeks out; the first time I saw the area between the second-last and last controls, which was problematic for some, was two days before the event).
"someone who's had a decent, if sporadic, international career (including a 10th at WOC) can win a race on home terrain " doesn't explain what happened in men's race...
pure speculation: perhaps they were famiiar with terrain, without any knowledge of the course... that would help quite a lot knowing what it looks like in each corner. Either by breaking embargo or livng there before embargo or if there is some Chinese version on Google Street View (which isn't according to rules naturally)
You could almost say that Yannick has had a 'decent, if sporadic international career', but he is a sprint specialist, and he has raced a lot in China, compared to the top Swiss, Norwegians and Swedes. And was Bergman just cruising, having already won the WC title?
First of all, this kind of sprint terrain is not that special and you find areas like this with very narrow "streets" and complex "road system" several places in Europe (mainly Italia, Portugal and Spain).
Secondly, a lot of the best sprinters in the world have regurlary been running PWT races in China the last ten years, also in areas very similar to this. And the chinese runners have been crushed again and again and again at these races on homeground.
Third, Shuangyan Hao had her peak at orienteering 10 years ago with a strong WOC in 2009. Since then it's been very very mediocre. Even in 2012 when she got at top 15 she was almost 2 minutes behind in the final after barely qualifying. Since then everything she's done international shows that the gap up to the best in the world have grown to be huge. Even last year at WRE Events in Guangdong she was far behind the European runners, some of them not even good enough to qualify for the World Cup this time.
Then you have the video of the start of YongYu Li where she basically just fold the map, look at it one time and run as fast as she could with no hesitation. Even the chinese winner who started after the TV changed focus to the womens was only shown on TV at the run in. One may wonder why.
I understand that you want to believe everything is okay and no cheating have been done, but results like today smells really bad.
[EDIT: The accusations below are incorrect, I'm sorry]
And as a bonus:
Also funny that you bring up Lizzie Inghams 3rd place in the Wellington sprint 2013 and you say there have been no talk about that performance...
Here is the map of the first part of that race: http://omaps.worldofo.com/upload/wc2b-final-women%...
And here you can look at the splits: http://obasen.orientering.se/winsplits/online/no/d...
If you look at this, you'll might find something funny.
Let's look at the times to leg 5.
1. Ingham 3:14
2. Wyder 3:36
3. Billstam 3:43
4. Friedrich 3:45
5. Luescher 3:46
This looks a bit weird, doesnt it? And it's a shame there were no gps that day.
I don't believe it was intentional cheating from neither Ingham or the organizers (which I do believe has been done now in China), but it's seems to me that she must have done a short cut on that leg and somehow no one realized it (maybe not even her?)
But yeah, add 30-40 seconds to Inghams time that day and she would still be in the top 5, so it was clearly a great race for her (and she's done great results both before and after), but to use this podium as a proof of home ground benefit is because of that long leg a weird example.
Edit: small changes 13:31 CET
And all of the New Zealanders and Australians will rise up and say: How Dare You Cast Aspersions Upon Our Lizzie?
I am seeing red just reading this post. And she will probably read this too. You should probably delete it...
I ran that course, on that day, as a public race, and it was absolutely all about getting the route choices right!
I see no reason to delete it. The speculation is based on facts. It is one specific leg where all runners but 1 choose a route choice which is at least 30 seconds slower than the route the winner does. Feel free to draw that one route choice for me and draw also where everyone else ran to lose that much.
Here is the extract from her log, relating to the leg 4-5:
"Immediately saw the massive climb to the gate on the left. Plus the consequent steep downhill through trees...there had to be a better way. So I scanned along the fence on my map until I found the 2nd gate - far to the right. Easy nav once through the school buildings, just had to push the pace along it. So went for the Right hand choice. Possibly the best decision I've ever made on an orienteering course!"
(I, alas, took the massive climb to the left.)
Ivar, you have lost your marbles
There are two route choices (because there are two proper openings in the fence) and everyone either chose the wrong opening or got lost in the school area. It's not impossible, but I think it's unlikely.
My point is, that Blair wrote "(and as far as I know nobody is accusing Lizzie of doing anything untoward).", and I'm pointing out that this result (or specifically that one leg) has in fact been discussed a lot and there are many people who seems sceptical.
Lundanes has great form out of the gate - doesn't bother reading the map (or the room), just charges in with a bold start on his first post. He can't seem to maintain the pace though, and drops back into the field with some quick post edits and walking back. A disappointing followup on legs 2 and 3, with some decidedly wayward navigation.
Ok. Let's stay focused on the issue at hand.
I am seriously concerned about the possibility of cheating at an international event. It affects the integrity of our sport at the deepest level. I think Ivar has some good points about the Chinese runners.
As much as I truly want to believe in an underdog story like this, I'm not buying it with the facts lined up. A little over a month ago, Li Zhuoye finished 58 out of 80 in the B final at the Swiss World Cup. That type of "improvement" seems extremely unlikely to say the least.
Of course, proving that any unfair advantages were given to the Chinese athletes is very difficult, not to say impossible. But the real test will be if these athletes can repeat these performances at other high-level races in the future.
@Ivar, this is from the article the planner wrote on WorldofO afterwards
“4-5: As with the men, the right route is much better. The best route out of the control is back down the hill to the North of all the buildings. I didn’t see all of the runners, but of those I saw only Lizzie Ingham took that option. I also saw Annika Billstam and Judith Wyder run down the dead end to Women’s control 15 while running 4-5, which explains why Lizzie had the fastest split on this leg by such a margin (Billstam and Wyder were 2nd and 3rd fastest)”
Facts always useful :)
Full article at http://news.worldofo.com/2013/01/24/wc-sprint-new-...
Something special did happen on that leg. Lizzie got it right
What, people think she jumped the impassable fence? I truly don't think that any short cut on that leg would have been faster than the "long cut" flatter route which she chose - but why can't it genuinely be that nobody else among the top runners looked so very far to the right on the map and noticed the gate and decided that it was the better way to go?
Okay, it seems my suspicion i've carried with me over almost 7 years have been wrong. Next time someone mention this leg I'll better tell them that it actually seems like everyone else just ran really bad on that leg and that we've probably been wrong all these years.
I'm sorry to Lizzie and to everyone here offended by my mistake and I hope no anger will be carried on.
This proves that there will always be specualations that turns out to be wrong. And I'm pretty sure there will be discussions about the chinese performances today for a long time. Maybe we're wrong even here.
Edit: I think I'll leave my wrongly accusing comments and not edit them away so everyone can see the full discussion and see that i was wrong.
I second Greg.
Combining the CISM orienteering scandal, along with previous results 1 2
of the athletes, there are some indicators that something unusual occurred.
It's easy enough to provide unusually good results after becoming familiar with the terrain, map, and early versions of courses. My personal test of this was when I was course designing and wondering why the winning times were slow, then I realized I had become so familiar with the course I performed better than I normally would.
I don't take it lightly to suggest unfair practices but I feel we are at a junction where certain unfair practices could become common practice as long as IOF doesn't know. I know of very few people who are so principled they could never be corrupted.
How could we prevent unfair competitions in the future?
Looking at the data it is difficult to believe that the Chinese runners did not have intimate understanding of this area. They might not have had the chance to run the whole course, but there are just too many things suggest that their performance is an outlier.
Li started 4th(!) and after CP 6 there was nobody in front of him he could chase or spot in tricky entry/exit situations. The GPS tracks are shitty in general, but his track suggests no particular hesitation or mistake on a very complex terrain.
Li was also leading until CP 21, the last control that required navigation. His lead was 8 sec over Yannick and 13 sec over Maxime. On 21-22-Finish Yannick did 64 sec, Maxime did 61 sec. Li did 77 sec (95th and 76th fastest). If he would have done similar to 20th fastest on both remaining legs, his result would have been 66sec, and he would have won by 6 sec instead of losing by 5 sec. Only if he could get a good running coach... ;-)
Interesting to note that amongst the men, on CP 3 the Top 3 were Chinese, on CP 6 still the Top 2 were Chinese. It definitely feels that this was beyond a couple of sigma deviation from the expected ;-)
@blairtrewin: general familiarity with lcoal terrain types might explain Shuangyan Hao's 11th place in the middle - her best WC result since 2009 AFAICS (http://runners.worldofo.com/shuangyanhao.html
) but it's a bit of a stretch for that to account for her winning today (albeit with some help from Tove's errors).
The men's result is even more extraordinary, as Li ZhuoYe has almost no past form (http://runners.worldofo.com/lizhuoye.html
) but was leading until #21, losing ~13s and 2 places to the final control / on the run-in.
edit: was distracted by a phone call and stalas got there first!
Also in the womens class the Chinese were flying in the beginning. There were 5 chinese runners top 10 at CP1 and 4 top 6 at CP 3. You could see when one of them started (YongYu Li, starting together with a french guy, where she basically just fold the map, look at it one time and runs with no hesitation) that it does look weird.
As Greg points out it is going to be very interesting to see if the chinese can be even close to performances like this in the future. I mean, some of the chinese runners are obviousely kind of decent orienteers, but for everyone else there is a massive gap from "kind of decent" to actullay podium a World Cup race.
Greg says he's seriously concerned about the possibility of cheating at an international event, and we all should be. If the organisers/organizing country want to cheat it can't be very difficult to do it. Basically, print one map and give it to a runner or coach.Even if the final course is ready just the night before there is still plenty of time. If you give a top athlete the map before start, after 5 minutes he should be able to know all the best routes (or at least avoid big mistakes) and imagine the race in a way which makes it a lot easier to avoid hesitating. I guess for example that Yannick would've run at least half a minute faster today if he got the map 3 minutes before start instead of when he actually started.
Scandinavians still tend to be kind of dismissive of people of non-Nordic origin, as to their orienteering abilities. Since the day when orienteering was born and thru the end of 1980s, when Soviets started competing internationally, Scandinavians were practically unbeatable. That explains the attitude to some extent.
The Chinese may have designed and perfected secret training techniques leading to success in orienteering, based probably on ancient spiritual recipes. Just like Bruce Lee, who designed his unique fighting technique, resulting in defeating many Western heroes.
"Scandinavians still tend to be kind of dismissive of people of non-Nordic origin, as to their orienteering abilities."
Thierry 2003 cured that.
PS The spiritual recipes were caterpillar fungus. Sonia O'Sullivan fans remain bitter. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/record-br...
@yurets: Because of your last paragraph i guess you're kind of joking, but:
Yes obviusely I think there is something fishy because Li ZhuoYe is non-scandinavian, not because he ha never shown anything like this before and that went from being 2:21 behind Michiels at the sprint in Switzerland (B-final had same course as A-final) a few weeks ago to being 5 seconds behind today...
From 93rd (58th in B-final + 35 in A-final with better time) to 3rd in the world in four weeks...
Also, the Swiss, Czechs and Hungarians won several medals in WOC and EOC in the 60s and 70s, and it was mainly the Swiss, Hungarians and Czechs winning medals aslo in 80s and early 90s also among non-scandinavians, not the Soviets as you suggest.
I understand your image of Scandinavians being kind of dismissive of people of non-Nordic origin when it comes to their orienteering abilities, but I think it is mostly connected to orienteering in Nordic terrains and not at all in sprint orienteering where it's been clear that both Norwegian and Finnish runners in general have been pretty mediocre in International sprint events since the beginning of this dicipline. No eyebrows are raised when Michiels, Jones, Robertsson etc are chrushing scandinavians in sprint orienteering (but it would be a surprise if they won WOC medals in classic Nordic forrest).
The best orienteers in history are also non-Scandinavian (Thierry and Simone) and the last 30 years Orienteering have grown into a sport with real elite in a lot more countries than the Nordic countries are winning international medals, so I think that for people younger than 40 there is no reason to belive that Scandinacians have superb orienteering abilities in all aspects of the sport.
PS! The Swiss are now only 21 WOC medals behind Norway in the all-time medal table. They may take 2nd spot behind Sweden quite soon.
I've never known yurets to post anything serious.
"and then the final change to the map (a new forbidden area which affected route choice)"
Which forbidden area was added the last night?
The one near women's control 6.
@blairtrewin: The forbidden area close to women's control 6 does not influence the race a lot, so I wouldn't use that too boost my confidence that there was no cheating going on. I could find the winner in the women's class to be "a nice surprise" if it was an isolated incident, but the results in the men's class are a bit harder to believe, especially with the CISM scandal in the back of your head. If you look at the split times and include only the technical controls (i.e. take out all with easy orienteering), you get the following Top 5 list:
1. Li ZhuoYe China 6:44 (+0:00) Total: 15:23 (3)
2. Xiyuan Liang China 6:46 (+0:02) Total:16:48 (41)
3. Yannick Michiels Belgium 6:47 (+0:03) Total: 15:18 (1)
4. Maxime Rauturier France 6:56 (+0:12) Total: 15:20 (2)
5. Tang JianDa China 7:03 (+0:19) Total: 16:10 (22)
(I took out legs 6, 7, 9, 10, 14, 17, 18, 21-finish)
I can see that this is a special terrain type where the Chinese have the possibility to specialize. But why have we not seen the Chinese at the top of the results on home ground in earlier high profile races in China? There is still no proof here, but at least with the CISM background I think there is reason to be a bit suspicious?
@blairtrewin: And BTW: Two of those three Chinese in Top 5 on that list took the wrong route around that new forbidden area around control 6, losing 18 and 23 seconds respectively. More than in all the technical area. On a positive note, the Chinese did take different routes to several controls in the tricky parts.
Pot calling the kettle tricKy?
I wasn't in China at the time.
@jankoc: Various analyses clearly suggest that Chinese runners had high level familiarity with this (type of) terrain. The big question is whether they had general familiarity gained on similar type of terrains, or specific familiarity after training on this terrain.
It is possible to build expertise specialised on this type of terrain, but - unless the Chinese have a magic training formula - it takes a huge effort of producing top quality maps and mimic competition circumstances to get the specific skills to this level. In return that work should have shown up in results on other events, but there is not much sign of that.
With no track record of similar performance, and after the rather obvious CISM cheating, one might be forgiven to believe that significant amount of specific knowledge (area, map, control locations, course) was part of this success. Yet, it is near impossible to prove it without a smoking gun.
The real causality is trust in fair play, a component of orienteering most of us take so inherent, that we seldom think about its tremendous value.
the Chinese have a magic training formula
Probably not. But maybe you're looking at it the wrong way?
Top sprinters do have a magic training formula - hours and hour geeking on google maps. Taking this advantage away will surely have a big effect on the non-Chinese (no google maps in China).
Blair wrote an interesting comment at Nopesport today (http://forum.nopesport.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t...
"I think it's plausible that training happened on the area using old maps - and if you saw the old map, you could probably make an educated guess as to where the arena was, and from there the likely area where the first part of the course would be (but a lot of teams do that these days) - but think it extremely unlikely that the course was leaked (not least because the second half was completely redesigned in the last few weeks before the event, and some fine-tuning such as addition/removal of forbidden areas was happening up until the evening before the event; also, almost none of those who had access to the final or near-final courses were locals, with Jaroslav Kacmarcik as the course-setter)."
First, it's interesting to see the SEA saying it's plausible that training have been done in the area (of course, there is no way for IOF to control anything like that, and it's the same in all countries, you just have to rely on fair play).
Secondly, the second part of the course was changed in the last weeks before the event and we know that the chinese were really dominating the first part where the course was unchanged.
Then you have the new forbidden area between control 6 to 7, where about 2/3 of the Chinese men got that route choice wrong.
Third, Blair says "almost none of those who had access to the final or near-final courses were locals". Well, it only takes 1.
My take is that cheating is quite possible in this situation and with the facts we have from results, splits, former performances, Jans analysis and Blair comments I would guess something like this:
1. The Chinese team have been training in the area (old map)
2. They had access to early versions of the course
3. They new the course had been changed (but possibly didn't know what was changed).
The chinese runners are, unlike those cheating at CISM, pretty decent orienteers and know how to handle a map. So they could without any problem see where the changes were made and where there were new forbidden areas they didnt know about beforhand. One could laugh of Li ZhuoYe for beind the 93rd fastest at WC in Switzerland, but he was not more than 2 1/2 minute behind, so he's a decent sprint orienteer (but the gap from decent to podium is HUGE).
The 3 steps of cheating I mention is possible to do, it fits in with Blair comments of this situation, it fits in with Jans analysis and it should be enough to bring a few lucky decent sprint orienteers into world class sprint orienteers for one day.
Here are a few extra comments from Swedish runners about the event:https://www.aftonbladet.se/sportbladet/a/e8RKrg/ef...
Gustav Bergman about possible ways to cheat: "One way to cheat is to see the course beforehand. I can easily say that I would've won if I had access to the course before the race today"
And an interesting comment from Martin Regborn on Strava: "23rd (would have been 21 without the obviusely cheating Chinese."
Also I want to bring in a few comments from a Chinese guy called Devon Yao on Facebook: "Li Zhuoye is a teacher , he has work and he has not enough time for training himself but he tired his best to do it and it is the best result for him."
"After he became a member in Chinese national orienteering team this year in May , he tried his best to train himself everyday. I'm his friend and we often train together."
In my opinion, it doesnt make it more believable when you argue that the runner ending up third is working a lot, doesn't have time for much training, tries to train everyday and just kind of trying his best. A guy that have been half a year with the national team, training a little bit beating guys that have been elite athletes for 5-10 years.
To follow the accusations from Regborn, this is what Matthias Kyburz just posted on his Facebook page:
"After two eventful weeks in China I am back home in Switzerland with more than just mixed feelings.
The most basic fairness rules in orienteering got disrespected at the CISM World Games in Wuhan by Chinese runners. First I thought that winning by all means only belongs to the CISM World Games. But after the Sprint at the World Cup Final, I am more than sceptical that the results from the civilian Chinese runners were obtained by following the fair play rules.
I don`t have a clear evidence for their cheating but I know how much effort over years normally is needed to reach the top in orienteering.
I still feel angry and kind of helpless that this happens in front of my eyes.
I want to rise my voice that fair play in our sport always wins!
More to come “soon” on my webpage!"
Picking up on a few things in this thread.
The new forbidden area near 6 was only the last of several last-minute changes; others included the artificial barrier/forbidden area near the second-last, and the removal of an artificial barrier near the women's 7. None of this was specifically motivated by wanting to thwart course leaks (the first was because I wasn't happy with the passability of some of the mapped passages in that area and creating an artificial barrier was the easiest way to take that route choice out of play, the second was because a dangerous overhanging wire which was the reason for the barrier had been removed), but you could describe that as a collateral benefit. I don't read much into the splits from 6-7: it was a different type of leg to the earlier ones (a complex route choice to assess but a relatively simple one to execute once you made your decision, more a central European type of sprint leg) so it makes sense that the skill mix needed is different.
If you haven't been in the Chinese village terrain it's difficult to appreciate the intensity of decision-making required: in some places you're hitting a decision point every 3-4 seconds. That also happens in some of the more complex Mediterranean old towns, but there's never been an IOF elite high-level event in a complex Mediterranean old town (even the WOC 2014 sprint in Venice used a relatively easy part of the city). One of the reasons why I'm more willing than some to accept that it's possible to get a result far above expectations in that type of terrain is that I once got one myself (no-one would accuse me of being a sprint specialist but I was 4th in WMOC 2008 in Portugal, with the fastest splits for the old town section); it could be argued that Maxime Rauturier's second place yesterday was as far above his previous performance profile as some of the other results we're talking about here.
Was any thought given to permitting all teams to run around the sprint area in advance, as has been done at some WOC sprint finals right up until the controls went out?
Regarding Maxime Rauturier, he was fastest on leg 2 at the sprint relay sunday and 2nd of all men that day. He's also French Champion in sprint and did a really good WRE-sprint in Beijing last year: https://eventor.orienteering.org/Events/ResultList...
For sure a huge surprise, kind of like when Tranchand won a sprint medal at WOC in Trondheim 2010, but for obvious reasons there is no logical way of accuse Rauturier for cheating this weekend.
I won't comment on the results except to say that they highlight one of the major difficulties of our sport - trust. Ignoring the possibility that an organiser might assist athletes with versions of the course (which is quite unlikely), the two primary guards against cheating are the embargo and the quarantine. Both of these rely disproportionately on trust.
There is nothing to stop someone breaking the embargo and going to the area. Someone visiting the area is very unlikely to be discovered (unless they are incredibly indiscreet and run with a map in the week before the event).
The quarantine is a nice idea but I don't think it is a barrier to someone who wants to cheat. A motivated individual could easily find a quiet corner (or go into the toilets) and check the GPS tracking prior to their run. Again, if the person is discreet I think they would be unlikely to be discovered.
Considering the debacle at CISM, I think it is understandable that people do not have trust in the Chinese results at the World Cup but I'm sure that it will have happened before and passed unnoticed. Maybe that is a pessimistic outlook but the rules mean that it is almost impossible to know if there was cheating unless the person is caught in the act. This is very bad for our sport.
Rather than focus on the Chinese runners, might it be more useful to consider the rules and make it much more difficult for cheating to occur?
Rather than focus on the Chinese runners, might it be more useful to consider the rules and make it much more difficult for cheating to occur?
Good idea - any suggestions? Full cavity search for illicit mobile devices on entry to quarantine?
I'd volunteer to do those!
But seriously, any suggestions?
Maybe that is a pessimistic outlook but the rules mean that it is almost impossible to know if there was cheating unless the person is caught in the act. This is very bad for our sport.
Same applies to many situations, eg: no way to know if someone is bribing other competitors to lose unless one of them speaks out. There were accusations that Lance Armstrong did that - early in his career - pre TdF wins.
"there's never been an IOF elite high-level event in a complex Mediterranean old town"
@Kris: Any suggestion for rule changes that would make it more difficult to cheat?
No obvious solution pops into my mind. Having been involved in almost a dozen major MTBO events (WMTBOC, WCup, etc) both as SEA and key organiser, I cannot think of any practical solution that cannot be busted by people who are committed to cheat. Our sport is based on high moral standards and developed as an elite sport in those areas of the world where there were people who were happy to maintain those standards. The lack of meaningful material benefit from orienteering success helped a lot too to maintain moral standards ;-)
Let's quickly check how can a home team cheat on the navigation side and what can be done beyond emphasizing honesty and fair play.
1) busting the embargo - no practical way to control it, especially for home team
(unless you are caught on Google street view, as happened once in MTBO ;-) )
2) access to new map - no practical way to control if home mapper involved
(if the IOF sends in a foreign mapper, home team may still get it mapped in secret)
3) access to draft courses / master map with control locations - no practical way to control it once locals involved (and without locals nigh impossible to organise an event)
4) pre-run courses / forest markers / secret paths (CISM style) - this can be avoided by not finalising controls and courses until the "last moment", but it increases risk of mistakes if locals are not involved early and when limited time is available to checking and double checking things
5) access to printed competition maps - no practical way to control it if maps are printed locally in high quality, because locals are involved, and copies can be passed around easily
6) access to live GPS tracks - strict quarantine may work, but difficult to cover all possibilities with the evolution of technology (e.g. HUD in goggles)
7) strict punishment (similar to AD bans) on people caught cheating - nigh impossible to prove cheating unless there is a smoking gun left on the scene (very seldom)
Any other ideas?
Are the rules fit for purpose if there is no practical way to control them?
This is easy in the case of embargo's: we've already had several championships where you can visit the terrain beforehand. I don't like this - I'd prefer to run in 'unknown terrain' - but it certainly takes away the option of cheating. The amount of preparation for WOC means that 'unknown terrain' is something of an illusion anyway.
(on @graeme's earlier point - I'd be surprised if many put hours into streetview/google earth before a World Cup. I wouldn't, it doesn't mean much to me compared to WOC/EOC).
The quarantine is more difficult: I'm not advocating people be searched. Perhaps we should rethink the live product? Jukola manage to limit the amount of information available to runners while providing an exciting TV broadcast. Sure, removing the option of live GPS makes it more difficult to spectate from home but more cameras and less dot watching might actually make for a more exciting TV product.
Neither are perfect solutions, just examples. I just don't like the 'high moral standards' argument - look at sport and you'll find plenty of western cheats. I'm not saying there is never institutional cheating but if a nation can do it, then so can an individual (and we are much less likely to catch that individual or put it down to 'breakthrough'). If we can't trust in the results then the rules should be changed.
On a side-note: later in the course, runners will have had a chance to plan ahead, giving less advantage to hypothetical cheats.
Is growth so important that we should sacrifice our fair play culture?
Cheating is not an east-west or north-south question, but mainly question of risk-benefit. For most athletes currently the benefit is mainly bragging rights and reduced cost of their hobby. There is not much incentive to cheat, especially if that means being thrown out of "good society" even based on suspicion. The current rules serve mainly as assurance that one does not have to cheat to be on equal ground. E.g. quarantine rules give assurance that nobody has access to live feed or information from early starters, so you do not have to desperately arrange for a live feed just to stay on equal footing. Moral standards prevail when no serious monetary benefits involved.
Introduce major benefits (prize money, olympic bonus, etc), and you get more cheats even in the current core countries. Expand to countries where cheating is generally accepted (see above in this thread), and you get more cheats. Expand to countries where international level athletes and their coaches get special benefits (travel rights, jobs, etc) and you get even more cheats.
If you want to find an analogue for rules with no practical ways to enforce them, you should not look farther than Westminster. A system that worked rather well for long-long time based on conventions and generally accepted behaviours with the occasional rouge player squeezed out. Once upon a time shameless lying made one a pariah thrown out from "good society", these days makes him PM ;-)
I think that the key question is not how to make enforceable rules (or water them down to enforceable level), but whether (elite) orienteering should sacrifice its core values for growth and expansion that may not even bring much extra benefit anyhow.
Having just caught up with everything while on holidays - reading the posts here on Attackpoint, the analysis on World of O etc, it appears pretty certain- like 99.9999% certain, that the Chinese athletes had early access to some version of the actual map AND courses. The clincher for mine is surely the split times for the majority of Chinese athletes in the early part of the course v splits in parts of the course that had been changed close to the event. Ivar and others have made a pretty strong argument here, and I am yet to see reasonable information that refutes this.
Then there is all the indirect supporting evidence - the CISM debacle, the issues around other athletes/sports at an international level like swimming.
As some others have stated (directly and indirectly) you can bend the moral and/or actual rules in orienteering pretty easily - say by having access to an area before a race. Then at the worst end of the rule breaking scale there is the Military Champs race. For mine this looks closer to that worst end. Moving on, I'm interested to see how the IOF handle the situation from here. At a minimum an independent forensic analysis of the results (aka the World of o type analysis plus audit of who had access to the course information, evidence from TV footage etc) would be a good start. There is clearly enough of a stench around the whole affair that this can be justified without it being seen as disgruntled first world orienteering nations picking on the developing nations.
A couple of other thoughts raised.
I was at the WC in Wellington when Lizzie had her breakthrough performance and I endorse what others have said, the evidence is overwhelming that her result was fair. The story and data of the race is very supportive of this conclusion - an athlete with a "normal" home ground advantage who made a great start to the race with outstanding route choice orienteering only to be gradually ran down by better credentialed athletes in the later stages.
Hats off to Gustav Bergman. It's so impressive that an athlete in his position - with so much to potentially lose would speak out on such an important moral issue.
Yes, Gustav is a regular LeBron James! (major sarcasm here.)
And with respect to the IOF (the statement from the ExecDir aside): hear no evil, see no evil, apparently.
Having only now looked at the course, I'm sympathetic to Blair's assessment: "If you haven't been in the Chinese village terrain it's difficult to appreciate the intensity of decision-making required: in some places you're hitting a decision point every 3-4 seconds."
Not having forensically reviewed the actual splits, I'd be pretty sure that spending a good amount of time onsite with a map (no course required) which would be possible for the Chinese athletes, but impossible for the Europeans, would have been a great advantage--probably more than seen in any sprints in a long time, particularly since the top competitors these days (as the point was made previously) can effectively do this most places aside from China.
Shoe's a bit on the other foot, perhaps.
People need to learn how to be more subtle when they cheat. Having numerous fantastic results on home terrain raises too many eyebrows.
So I can think of one World Cup final sprint in a complex Mediterranean village in the era before street view, and there were a couple of one hit wonder medalists there... It is amazing what a leveller that sort of race can be. Add in a bit of home advantage and I’m not very surprised with the Chinese results at all. Obviously I can understand the suspicion though given CISM.
@Craney: Subiaco 2005?
I must say I've never even heard of that belgian ending up 5th in that race.
I totally understand your point, but two things about this:
1) Without seeing any splits I suspect that the first part of that course, with 4 controls in green forest with quite a lot of details could have been the biggest part of a few surprises, and not the complex mediterranean willage. I guess you remember that race very well (I sure know I would if I ever achieved anything like that), but for others, you could see the map here: http://okvaal.com/kart/2005/host/pages/2005.10.04%...
2) Sprint was still pretty new back in 2005. At WOC there had been only one proper city in Switzerland 2003, while the WOC sprint in Finland, Sweden and Japan were pretty much some kind of weird forest races. WOC 2005 final as an example for those who don't remember: http://okvaal.com/kart/2005/sommer/pages/2005.08.1...
Today the top athletes have been sprinting around in cities since they were young (except Hubmann and Kvaal Østerbø which also raced back in 2005 and before) and a complex mediterranean village is not that special for todays top sprinters. Yes, it's true that there haven't been any WC in the most extreme cities, but good sprinters today have been training in complex villages in Spain, Portugal or Italy a lot of times now.
I don't want to be disrespecting the old generation of sprinters, but I would say it's pretty fair and reasonable to say that it's a whole lot of a different game now than in the early 2000s.
And If you can find splits from Subiaco, I think he earned a good starting position for the final and used his position in the starting field very effectively. You don't get towed to gold.
ndobbs: stupid me, I looked at the quali map and thought it was the final! At least there were 5 kind of tricky forest controls even in the final before entering the town so the point is still valid :) http://okvaal.com/kart/2005/host/pages/2005.10.05%...
Sprint with 200 meters of downhill, half forrest half complex village, sprint orienteering sure was something else back then!
My main point in this map discussion is that I think it's a BIG underestimating of the elite sprint runners to believe that the complex chinese town is something new to them and something they're not trained to handle very well.
WOC 2005 final as an example for those who don't remember
Don't remember or don't care?
In the women's World Cup sprint race, Chinese runners were coming 1st, 3rd, 5th and 5th after 3 controls, and in the men's race they were coming 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Impressive......
I don't want to get into the did they, didn't they debate because we can't ever get to the bottom of that, but from the comments above you would think that sprinters are using Google Street view forensically before every sprint. I know I don't, I'll often have a quick look at the old map or the satellite (which was possible for this race as well), but only really go into detail for a major race (WOC or EOC). Of course that means that the Chinese results could be down to the usual suspects being unprepared, but we are not often as prepared as most people seem to suggest on this thread. Most of the top sprinters can handle an unknown map ok.
Regardless, it is a shame for all involved and I wish we could look at tying up some of the holes in the rules. I don't think that 'fair play culture' and 'robust rules' need to be mutually exclusive. Can't we do both?
Subiaco - as I recall the Belgian caught Merz in the qual in that green (and both caught me!). He ended up qualifying really high (winning?), and then got caught in the final (by Hubmann?)
In comparison, Li started 4th of the whole field and passed the last runner who started earlier before CP 6 (of 22 controls). In essence, he ran the whole course alone.
So... plenty for the IOF Ethics Committee to investigate. Just as well they've kept in shape by doing some practice, eh Sandor...
re Ivar and Ecmo's comments on whether the Chinese athletes slowing down in the second half of the course shows that they had prior knowledge of (part of) the course rather than just having trained a lot on the area beforehand.
I've twice had the opportunity to "race" (non-competitively) in sprints against international elite runners when i've had what would otherwise be illegal advantage: once in an event I planned, where i was also one of the test runners beforehand, and once for an event where I'd drawn the map: a few punters were allowed to run the courses after - we observed the quarantine and had no idea where course went or even where the finish was.
I was old and fat and useless so my "illegal" advantage didn't make me a winner, but it did get me closer than I otherwise would have been. The areas were considerably more straightforward than Tuesday's but it was noticeable that in both case my gains were greatest on the shortest, most technical legs. Also notable that in both cases I ran much harder than usual for the first half of the course and then died horribly at the end.
Further to jayh comments. jayh and I test ran the WOC 2015 courses multiple times, and based the distances on us being the speed of elite women. They came out just as expected
Back then we'd typically be 15-20% down on elite women in a "fair" race, so its a fair estimate of how much preknowledge helps.
It's a shame that all this did-they-didnt-they debate is detracting from celebrating a sprint event with very cool terrain, challenging courses, functioning technology & a good map.
@ivarlundanes No anger or resentment at your comments, but thanks for a good laugh! ;) Happy to acknowledge my result looks suspicious from the outside and without all the details.
I never thought home advantage would count for much in a sprint, but as a Wellington orienteer you learn two things quickly - don't take unnecessary climb, and don't touch the forest/jungle unless you have to. That kind of stuff is not easy to know just by looking at the map (kinda like understanding just how complex the chinese villages are without actually trying to sprint in one) So I saw that leg and knew/hoped like hell there must be a better option than the horrible left routechoice everyone took. To this day I'm still amazed that leg caught out everyone else to the extent it did. Trust me, no-one is more surprised by the split times on that leg than I am.
I hope my medal at Norwegian Sprint Champs this year put your mind a little at ease. I hope you appreciate that I blew out and (probably) lost gold on the 4th last control, just to keep Norwegian sprint pride intact ;)
As for China - coming from a small O nation, and knowing what home advantage can mean, I really want to believe the sprint results (that terrain was insane and very special). But there's a few too many things that don't quite add up for me to take the results at face value.
There is a park world tour race tomorrow. None of us know where it will be and have no idea of the terrain we can expect. We have no knowledge of the course or travelling distance or anything yet. We only know that we will be leaving at 9.30am. I think this is what orienteering should be. We all stay under the same circumstances, in the same hotel and have the same knowledge about the event, which is basically nothing apart from clothing and shoe recommendations
A very interesting development: the IOF President referred the World Cup case to the Ethics Panel (earlier only the CISM case was referred to the EP):
"[...] members in our community and orienteering friends globally were surprised by race developments and final results. Incredible improvement of technical skills and running speed of some athletes creates questions and we, the IOF, need to analyse the background for such unexpected performances from a few athletes. Our sport is based on three values – Inclusive, Sustainable and Ethical. There are understandable doubts that maybe some of our basic values were ignored by some athletes."https://orienteering.sport/fair-play-and-major-eve...
I had my experience with the Ethics Panel this year when my blog was reported by the IOF to the Panel (what Michael referred to above). You may read the details of the case in this and some previous posts:https://iofreflections.blog/2019/07/07/ethics-pane...
In short: the The Ethics Panel launched an investigation despite not being able to identify a single specific comment to investigate, and despite they knew that they had no right to investigate a journalistic activity. After 8 months they could not find a single statement or fact in the post that required correction, or could have been used as a basis for formal action. Hence a formal process was never launched after the IOF's complaint. There is no record of this case on the Ethics Panel web page:https://orienteering.sport/iof/governance-and-orga...
My legal adviser referred to the overall process as “funny”. He particularly enjoyed that the reputable Ethics Panel demanded “clear factual evidence” to allegations they could not even specify. He also found professionally interesting that the Ethics Panel asked the IOF for factual evidence only 7 months after the initial complaint by the IOF – and then it never revealed the details of those apparently convincing facts. I think that process was more than sad.
Let's hope that this time the Ethics Panel reaches a more specific conclusion, in much shorter time, and in a more transparent process.
some more statistics: take best split time for each leg from each nation's runner:
1) Switzerland 14:30
2) France 14:35
3) Sweden 14:39
4) China 14:57
=) Czech Republic 14:57
6) Norway 14:58
7) Finland 15:08
8) Great Britain 15:15
9) Belgium 15:18
10) Austria 15:25
1) Sweden 12:36
2) Switzerland 12:41
3) Russian Federation 13:02
4) China 13:13
5) Czech Republic 13:18
6) Finland 13:25
7) Norway 13:29
8) Denmark 13:50
9) Great Britain 14:10
10) Poland 14:17
Taking a digression from China, someone just alerted me to this thread and I thought I'd add to Lizzie's and ivarlundanes' comments above about the WC race in New Zealand to set the record a bit straighter...
Lizzie may not have worked out how she won that leg by so much, but I did.
The leg was deliberately planned so that the long route to the west was quite a bit quicker than hilly straighter route to the East. About 30 seconds difference for the women and 20 for the men, if executed correctly (which a lot of the women taking the hilly route didn't).
On the day, 30 women took the hilly route and only 10 took the flatter route. Of those 10 I think Lizzie was the only one to take the best route, which was to go back the way she came and go to the north of the school buildings. The others took a straighter route to get to the gate on the west side of the school. This was about 3-4s slower on pure running speed (too many steps and direction changes), but was also a lot trickier navigation so the real time difference was probably a bit more.
I was actually out watching what was going on and saw both Annika Bilstam and Judith Wyder running that leg together. I watched them both run down the dead end to control 15 - seehttp://omaps.worldofo.com/upload/wc2b-final-women%...
- then stand around confused working out what had gone wrong, and I have a good photo of the pair of them having to retrace their steps. I estimated at the time that they lost 20-25 seconds, and they still had the 2nd and 3rd best times on the leg.
So basically Lizzie did the leg well and no-one else did, Annika Bilstam lost the race there, and Tove still won despite losing about 1-20 on the leg!
I would echo Lizzie's comment about home advantage - there basically wasn't much except that, as she sort of says, if you orienteer in Wellington you get to learn that straight is often not very great.
EDIT - I should have read the whole thread before writing this - I'd forgotten that I'd made pretty much the same comments before (see Jon X's post).
In the aftermath of the China World Cup races it's worth reading Gustav Bergman's blog
for his take on China and the WC races.
It’s good for keeping an eye on the globalists
+1 Mr Wonderful, yep, lots of cultural marxists and collectivists out there
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