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Erste Speed-Siege an Klemen Kosi und Noelle Barahona
Klemen Kosi (Slo) und Noelle Barahona (Chile) haben die ersten Speed-Rennen der Saison 2016/17 – jeweils ein Super-G in Valle Nevado (Chile) gewonnen.

Norjalainen kaksinkertainen hiihdon olympiavoittaja on kuollut
Eero Mäntyrannan kova kilpakumppani kuoli.
Norjan hiihtopomon selityksille kävi nolosti: Oman maan asiantuntijoilta täystyrmäys
Norjalaisasiantuntijat eivät allekirjoittaneet hiihtomaajoukkueen johtajan selityksiä astmalääkkeiden käytöstä.
Schweizerinnen in Ushuaia – der Trainingsfahrplan stimmt
Südamerika ist für die Schweizerinnen eine Reise wert. Die Fahrerinnen sind fit und die Trainingseinheiten für Slalom und Riesenslalom sind nach Plan verlaufen.

Norwegian Ski Team Recommended Nebulizer Use by Healthy Athletes, Say Anonymous Skiers
Norway's Martin Johnsrud Sundby during the men's 15k skate leg of the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta. Sundby may not be the only Norwegian athlete who used a nebulizer to take asthma medication - even healthy athletes were apparently recommended to do so. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby during the men’s 15k skate leg of the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta. Sundby may not be the only Norwegian athlete who used a nebulizer to take asthma medication – even healthy athletes were apparently recommended to do so. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

As Norwegian skier Martin Johnsrud Sundby has decided to appeal his doping ban to the Swiss Supreme Court, stories have emerged suggesting that the Norwegian Ski Federation recommended that healthy skiers use salbutamol nebulizers – the same drug and method Sundby was issued a two-month ban for – as preventative therapy to maximize performance.

That suggests that a number of Norwegian athletes might have engaged in the same behavior which got Sundby in trouble in the first place. No other doping cases are known to exist from the Norwegian team. However, the International Ski Federation rules mean that if an athlete had been caught with high levels of salbutamol like Sundby, it may have been kept quiet.

After Sundby’s ban, men’s national team coach Tor Arne Hetland told FasterSkier that “we will not do the same mistake again.”

But what of the past? Norway’s TV2 talked with several cross-country skiers who say they were told by the national team to use nebulizers, even though they did not have asthma. A nebulizer delivers beta-2 agonists, drugs which help relax muscles in the airways. Such medications are banned for use by athletes up until a threshold dose.

TV2 would not reveal the identity of the athletes, but reported that one said they were “mildly surprised” to be offered the drugs even though they were not having difficulty breathing.

In the same piece, national team director Vidar Løfshus said that this constituted “preventative care” to make sure that no athletes had airway obstructions.

Evidence suggests that salbutamol cannot help breathing for athletes who are not having an airway constriction, such as that caused by asthma. But beta-2 agonists, as a class of drugs, can also be used as masking agents for other drugs, and can have androgenic effects (like steroids) when used in high doses.

The Norwegian Ski Federation announced on its website that it would be conducting a full review of medication use policies in the wake of the scandal.

Erik Røste, the president of the federation, said that he expected that healthy athletes would not have been prescribed medication, but sought to clarify whether his assumption was true. The investigation will be carried out by people not affiliation with the federation in order to maintain independence. Antidoping Norway has been consulted about assisting.

Røste also said that he was concerned that the stories could damage the reputation of the federation.

That seems to be already happening. Swedish national team doctor Per Andersson told Swedish media that prescribing medication to healthy athletes was a “dangerous path”.

Meanwhile, Sundby had been sanctioned for using high concentrations of salbutamol via a nebulizer. The International Ski Federation (FIS) had initially not suspended him, but the World Anti-Doping Administration (WADA) appealed the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which banned him from competition for two months. Because some results were invalidated, Sundby lost his 2015 overall World Cup title as well as the overall Tour de Ski win.

CAS is the highest governing body in sports, and decisions cannot be appealed or overturned. However, Sundby decided to appeal the case to a non-sports body, the Swiss Supreme Court, because he felt that the judgement was unfair. He told Norwegian media that he was “not guilty.”

Based on WADA rules, the maximum amount of salbutamol that is allowed to be inhaled is 1600 micrograms over 24 hours. Sundby’s samples taken Dec. 13, 2014 after the 15-kilometer classic in Davos, Switzerland, and Jan. 8, 2015 after the 25 k freestyle pursuit at the Tour de Ski in Toblach, Italy, and analyzed by a WADA accredited laboratory exceeded those limits.

His case hinges on a few words, as Sundby and the Norwegian medical team believe that the WADA limit applies only to medication taken in an inhaler, while Sundby used a different device, a nebulizer.

As an athlete with a documented history of asthma, Sundby likely could have received a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) which may have allowed the nebulizer use. But he did not apply for one, and they cannot be obtained retroactively.

Gericht verbietet Garmisch-OK eine Tribüne im Zielgelände
Tiefschlag für das Organisationskomitee der Weltcup-Rennen in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Das Gericht verbietet das Aufstellen eines Teils der Tribüne.

Ministeri reagoi Norjan hiihdon astmalääkepaljastuksiin: ”Vakavaa Norjan urheilulle”
Norjan kulttuuriministeri otti kantaa maan hiihtoa ravistelevaan astmalääkekohuun.
FS Podcast: Skiing for the Maple Leaf, Living in Oslo — It’s Devon Kershaw
Heading up to high camp on the glacier of Mera Peak, Nepal. (Photo: Devon Kershaw)

Heading up to high camp on the glacier of Mera Peak, Nepal, in April 2014. (Photo: Devon Kershaw)

As long as the Canadian men’s national ski team has been a force, Devon Kershaw’s name has been synonymous with that success. As recently as 2012, Kershaw finished the season ranked second overall in the final World Cup standings. And in 2011, along with teammate Alex Harvey, he won the classic team sprint at World Championships in Oslo, Norway.

Beyond his Oslo win, Kershaw has settled for the time being with his wife, former Norwegian ski star Kristin Størmer Steira. The two live close to downtown Oslo where Kershaw has found a profoundly livable city; it’s easy to find world-class training and as he works on his Norwegian, he can default to English. Kershaw says nearly the entire population can converse in perfect English.

Kershaw (L) and Alex Harvey (R) celebrating their team sprint victory at the 2011 World Championships. Photo, Hemmersbach/NordicFocus

Kershaw (l) and Alex Harvey (r) celebrating their team sprint victory at the 2011 World Championships in Oslo, Norway. (Photo: Hemmersbach/NordicFocus)

At 33, and having been on the international ski scene for over a decade, Kershaw speaks with experience and authority when it comes to the evolution of the sport. Then there’s the dark side exposed bare this July with the release of the McLaren report.

“As an athlete, I’m just getting a bit sick of lip service. How much lip service do we need to take? It’s either a priority for us, for like, WADA, IOC, FIS … or it is not,” Kershaw said in the podcast.

Kershaw notes he’ll continue competing through the 2018 Winter Olympics, then it’s most likely back to school for the Sudbury, Ontario, native.

Listen to the full podcast here by clicking the play button below.

Devon Kershaw (Canadian World Cup Team) competing in the classic sprint at the Ski Tour Canada on March 8 in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)

Devon Kershaw (Canadian World Cup Team) competing in the classic sprint at the Ski Tour Canada on March 8 in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)

Kommentti: Norjalaisten sinisilmäisyys hiihdon dopingista karisee vihdoin: kesä 2016 on vuonomaan Lahti 2001
Mitä kaikkea norjalaisesta hiihdosta vielä paljastuu, pohtii Mikko Marttinen.
Ski and Work in the Rockies this Winter! 
The view from just outside the nordic center at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, Colo. (Photo: Alex Kochon/FasterSkier)

The view from just outside the nordic center at Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, Colo. (Photo: Alex Kochon/FasterSkier)

(Press release)

Snow Mountain Ranch is hiring Nordic Center Employees and Volunteers to work as instructors and rental staff, along with Snowmobile Grooming Operators.  While at SMR enjoy skiing on 100+km of trails, daily ski breaks, and discounts on ski gear.  Snow Mountain Ranch also provides housing and meals to employees and volunteers for free.  Opportunities range from 3 weeks to 8 months; work in the Nordic Center will begin November 15 and run through April 15, 2017.  For more information about working at the Nordic Center or any of our other seasonal employment or volunteer opportunities, visit: snowmountainranch.org/employment/

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