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Sundby Decides Against Doping Appeal

An elated Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway crosses the finish line at the top of Alpe Cermis to wrap up his second consecutive Tour de Ski title in Val di Fiemme, Italy, in 2015. He lost that title for a doping violation. (Photo: (Photo: Val di Fiemme/www.fiemmeworldcup.com)

An elated Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway crosses the finish line at the top of Alpe Cermis to wrap up his second consecutive Tour de Ski title in Val di Fiemme, Italy, in 2015. He lost that title for a doping violation. (Photo: (Photo: Val di Fiemme/www.fiemmeworldcup.com)

Norwegian cross-country skier Martin Johnsrud Sundby has decided not to appeal a two-month suspension he received for using a high dose of asthma medicine.

Sundby’s suspension came from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and he was considering an appeal to the Swiss Supreme Court. It is unusual for sports-related cases which reach the CAS level to be brought into federal courts afterwards.

“The important thing for me was to find out if the possibility existed, because I’m not a lawyer and I had no clue,” he told Norway’s NRK broadcaster.

He revealed that after consulting with Swiss lawyers, it did not seem like he had a good chance of winning an appeal. Any case he brought to the Swiss Supreme Court would have been based on procedure, not on the facts of the case. Sundby said that he decided against an appeal because he did not wish to drag the process out longer.

It is unclear whether he also faced pressure from his own country. The Norwegian Ski Federation publicly backed him, as their team doctor had prescribed the asthma medication and the federation believed that in doing so, no rules were broken.

But 2014 Olympic slalom medalist Henrik Kristofferson recently told NRK that he found the rampant use of asthma medication by his country’s cross-country skiers “comical” and that Norway should clean up their own house before pointing fingers at Russia or Finland over doping allegations.

Then, Norwegian Minister of Culture Linda Hofstad Helleland, in supporting the work of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), said that Sundby’s case was proof that the system worked.

“If someone is in a gray area, then it has to be taken seriously,” she told VG. “It cannot be trivialized.”

Sundby’s sentence was clear, she said, and “then we have to deal with it.”

Sundby has now finished his suspension, but the lasting mark on his resumé will be nullified results from two competitions, which ultimately cost him the 2015 Tour de Ski and overall World Cup titles.

–Chelsea Little

Hall, Wood Spearhead ‘Survey for Ethical Sport’ to Present to IOC, FIS

On Monday, a three-question survey called the “Survey for Ethical Sport“, created by Marty Hall and Dave Wood, former head coaches of the Canadian cross-country ski team, went live online with the technical support of national-team skier Julien Locke. The idea behind it, is to “spread the word” and send the results to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Ski Federation (FIS), according to Hall, also a former U.S. national team coach. “We are a group of coaches/athletes that have been directly impacted by cheaters,” the survey states. “We have put together this survey as we believe that everyone’s voice needs to be heard. Sport is in a critical time right now and we are motivated to use our survey findings to make a difference.” “In this whole process if you think about it, do we ever have anything to say, and who’s this all about?” Hall said. “Whether it’s support personnel or people like…

WADA Revises Meldonium Guidelines, Increasing Leniency

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has revised its guidelines for athletes whose urine samples tested positive for the prohibited metabolic modulator meldonium, according to a document posted to the organization’s website on Thursday. The update allows much more leniency for athletes with traces of the drug found in their urine samples until September 30, 2016. It also places the onus on sports federations to determine whether the athletes used the drug before or after it was added to the Prohibited List on January 1. Since then, at least 172 athletes have tested positive for the substance. At that time some, like tennis star Maria Sharapova, did not notice the that the drug was newly classified as banned and continued to use the it. Others claim to have stopped using the drug before January 1, but the substance still showed up in their urine samples. Before this year, little research had been done…

IOC Backtracks on Part of IAAF Decision; No Russian ‘Neutral’ Athletes in Rio

“We have come to a unanimous declaration,” International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tuesday after an Olympic Summit which convened heads of international federations in the Olympic movement. “All the stakeholders have come to the unanimous declaration … the Summit confirmed their respect and approval and support for the decision having been taken by IAAF last Friday.” That decision, by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), would have nearly completely barred Russian track and field athletes from competing at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Russian athletics have been embroiled in a doping scandal. The international federation decided that only those athletes which could individually prove — “clearly and convincingly” — that they had not doped, for instance because they were living outside of Russia and had been repeatedly tested by an accredited and respected antidoping agency, could compete. And notably, the IAAF…

New Documentary Alleges Russian Interference with FIS, IBU Anti-Doping Efforts (Updated)

A new documentary by German journalist Hajo Seppelt aired on ARD last night, alleging further involvement of Russian officials in hampering anti-doping efforts. While one of the biggest news items was that Russian Minister of Sport Vitaly Mutko was personally implicated in hiding a positive doping test by a soccer player, nordic sports were directly mentioned for one of the first times in Seppelt’s work. Specifically, RUSADA allegedly warned head coaches and athletes ahead of doping controls ordered by the International Ski Federation (FIS) and the International Biathlon Union (IBU). FasterSkier has reached out to the federations for comment. The documentary is available here in German and here in English.

Russian Cross-Country Skier Tests Positive for Meldonium

A Russian cross-country skier who placed in the top 30 at Russian nationals last weekend, Kirill Vitsjuzjanin, has tested positive for the banned substance meldonium. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited use of the drug, a metabolic modulator, starting Jan. 1, 2016. Vitsjuzjanin, 23, apparently took meldonium last September based on a prescription from his doctor, Langrenn reports. His father and trainer Petr Vitsjuzjanin said that his son used the substance last year, before it was banned. Earlier this year, he passed a doping test but a sample taken in March was found positive for the substance. “I am shocked,” his father said. “The situation is embarrassing for me.” Vitsjuzjanin has never competed in a World Cup, but placed 22nd and 27th at Russian nationals last weekend in Tyumen. Several Russian athletes have also tested positive for the banned substance, including tennis star Maria Sharapova and skate printer Pavel Kulizjnikov. Two Ukrainian biathletes have open cases with…