Sorry for the lack of updates on the site. Last weekend I took some days off to go and see the Biathlon World Championship and that got me thinking…
The winner of the women’s sprint, Olena Pidhrushna, was as a huge surprise for everybody - including the Ukrainian herself - and the way her victory was described in the media amazed me. Not in the biathlon arena or in the media did I ever hear anybody talk about doping and if you look at the facts, such a suspicion would have been instantly in the world of professional cycling.
This is what I’m referring to. Olena Pidhrushna got sick after the last World Cup event (in Antholz, Italy where she got her best results this season) just a few weeks before the World Champions and she didn’t even join the Ukrainian team until a few days before the World Champions started. She wasn’t feeling well enough to participate in the mixed relay just two days before the sprint, but still she managed to take the gold medal in front of the big favorites. At the press conference after the sprint victory Olena Pidhrushna said she wanted to thank her trainers for “getting me back in such a good shape in so few days after my sickness”. Normally Pidhrushna isn’t among the fastest in the track but in this sprint she had the 6th best time of all, she has only done better once this year. Some journalists tried to get Olena Pidhrushna to elaborate on her sudden great shape after being sick, but she refused to answers any questions in that direction.
I’m not saying that Olena Pidhrushna didn’t race clean last weekend, not at all, but imagine what people would have said if some lower class cyclist suddenly won the Tour de France or the World Champions without an individual victory all season and after being in bed sick just a week before. Somehow I think “surprise” wouldn’t quite cover it…
In cycling all the riders in UCI’s testing pool are required to fill out their whereabouts. Every rider with a biological passport are in this testing pool and that means that all riders from the World Tour and Pro-Continental teams have to update their whereabouts. In biathlon only 38 out of the 150 registered male athletes are in the testing pool while the numbers for the female athletes are 38 out of 125. You may ask yourself why only 25% of the athletes have to fill out their whereabouts, but according to IBU it’s very simple:
“Only a limited number of athletes are in the IBU Testing Pool, because it is a very difficult task to get the 24 hour a day whereabouts of a large group. It takes an immense amount of work by the athletes and the IBU.” - it says on their website.
Having only one person to take care of the testing pool, IBU are leaving out a number of prominent runners high on the world ranking. Number 11, 12 and 20 on the currently male ranking list are not in the testing pool and that’s despite the fact that they are all Austrian. Do I need to remind you what happened at the Winter Olympics in 2006? It’s like if UCI had decided not to test the best Kazakh riders after Vinokourov and Kashechkin both got tested positive riding for their home team. Again, I’m not saying that the three Austrian athletes are doped, I’m simply pointing out that it would have been ‘a big thing’ had it happened in cycling.