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While FasterSkier’s main purpose is to bring rabid ski fans updates on the latest and greatest in uniform styles, we do touch on some other issues in the Nordic ski world.

And while it may not be quite as sexy (both literally and figuratively), Nat Herz recently wrote two articles on the issue of repayment of convicted dopers’ winnings.

There is a little-publicized International Ski Federation (FIS) rule stating that dopers must return money collected in races after their positive drug test. Nat checked in with both Finland’s Sami Jauhojaervi and the Czech Republic’s Lukas Bauer, both of whom should have received more than $2,000 U.S. after Russian Evgeni Dementiev tested positive at the 2009 Tour de Ski.

Both men told Nat that they had not received any additional money, with Bauer saying, “I was never contacted by FIS or Tour de Ski organizers about this problem…We will see later, but I don’t expect any miracles.”

While it is up to national governing bodies to re-distribute the funds once they’ve been reclaimed, it is up to FIS to make sure that this actually happens.

FIS initially communicated that the money should have been redistributed, and that they would check the accounting. After Bauer confirmed that he hadn’t received money as well, Nat pushed FIS further, culminating in a somewhat tense phone conversation with FIS General Secretary Sarah Lewis.

Later that day Nat received an email from FIS Anti-Doping Administrator Sarah Fussek finally explaining the situation.

“It appears there was an administrative lapse in handling the necessary transfers from the Russian Ski Association account to the Finnish and Czech accounts after the decision was taken by the FIS Doping Panel,” wrote Fussek.

The point to recounting all this is not merely to pat ourselves on the back.  Nat certainly deserves that pat for a fine piece of investigative work, but I see the whole episode as notable in that one of the outcomes is that FIS has stated they will correct the matter.

Over the last year, as we have expanded the breadth of our coverage, FIS staff have generally been responsive and helpful, but it is also seems that they are not used to being pushed.

So while part of our job is to keep the ski community informed, we also try to provide a level of accountability that has not existed in the past.

Nat deserves credit for his good work, and FIS as well for ultimately admitting to a problem. We will certainly be following up to see what happens next.

And while it can be fun to write about plans for new race formats, and what color suits the US Ski Team will be wearing next season, our mission is also to provide the accountability that ensures the right thing is being done.

Perhaps this sounds a little too self-congratulatory. It is not meant to be. But I am proud that FasterSkier has reached a place where our reporters are doing that level of journalism.

And whether it is FasterSkier, or some other media entity, it is notable that it is happening in the ski world.

We are always working to do a better job, and we know that there is still much room for improvement. We hold ourselves to the same high standards that we expect from others – be it FIS, National Governing Bodies, and individuals within the sport – and expect others to do the same.

6 Responses to “Accountability”

  1. Harry Says:

    Great job Nat and Fasterskier! If FIS were serious about punishing doping this issue would have been brought to light a long time ago, would think you are just at the tip of the iceberg.

  2. ZJG Says:

    Nice work Topher and Nat.

  3. Mark Says:

    Nice work, and good to hear, but it’s too bad that FIS is more responsive than the people who didn’t pay out the SuperTour winnings.

  4. Clay Says:

    Yeah, I thought that was a cool issue you guys tackled. IMO, the convicted dopers should be required to pay the money back with 20% interest!

  5. FedererFTW Says:

    And who would be the recipients of Dementiev’s prize money? Bauer and Jauhojaervi. One of them skis on a team that has had its fair share of doping problems, and another one was seriously asked on Norwegian TV whether ‘he can be trusted’ after demolishing the field in the 2008 TDS.

  6. Ian Says:

    NO KIDDING – Mark you said it. It’s one thing for a top World Cup skier who makes plenty of other thousand dollars of prize money, to not get 2,000 that they deserved (and it’s absolutely great that FIS and the dopers and their national teams are being held accountable for that)…but it is absolutely outrageous how easily USSA got away with not paying the SuperTour prize money to the overall winners – skiers who absolutely depend on that income and sacrificed everything only to have USSA go back on their word without a thought.

    Seriously USSA, honor your commitments…if you literally have no $$ left in the bank, then you have no choice but to take out a loan or lay off a coach or staff person so you can pay your DEBTS to these deserving athletes struggling to eat and train with minimal support. And Clay, I agree…with interest!!

    Way to go FasterSkier for putting pressure on FIS and making the issue known – and for running the article about USSA failing to pay the promised prize money…I say, let’s keep on them and not let them get away with this, even if it is two seasons old. What a precedent to set … no other organization in the country could ever get away with something like that without declaring bankruptcy!!

    F’d up…good thing the private clubs have stepped up to support many of the best athletes in the country or there would be no Kikkan, Koos, Southam, Ida Sargent, Simi, Compton, etc.