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.