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Swedish skier 'virtually certain' to have used blood doping

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Swedish skier 'virtually certain' to have used blood doping
A cross-country skier in Germany. This skier is not accused of doping. Photo: Jens Meyer/AP
13:17 CET+01:00
One of Sweden’s leading cross-country skiers has been accused of blood doping by Swedish broadcaster SVT, after a leak of 10,000 test results to international media outlets.
The broadcaster’s investigative program Uppdrag Gransking showed results of blood tests taken from the skier over several years to James Stray-Gundersen, a US doctor who previously worked for the World Anti-Doping Agency. 
 
“I believe it’s something like a one in 10,000 chance of having normal causes,” Stray-Gundersen said of one particularly high result, which showed an 'off-score' of more than 130. 
 
“I would say that this is virtually certain to be doping. 99.99 percent. For me there’s very little doubt about this picture, and I would be surprised if any other experts feel differently.” 
 
The broadcaster has not named the skier, beyond saying that he is one of Sweden’s leading competitors in the sport. 
 
The database of 10,000 test results, taken from 2,000 elite skiers between 2001 and 2010, has been shared between German investigative sports journalist Hajo Seppelt, of the ARD TV channel, the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper, and the Swiss magazine Republik. 
 
The reporters claim that the results prove that doping is widespread in cross-country skiing, with leading athletes routinely allowed to continue competing, despite blood test scores, some of which the reporters claim have less than a one in a million chance of being natural. 
 
The reported identified skiers, 12 of whom were Swedish, who had red blood cell levels which would only normally be seen in one percent of the population. 
 
“The most egregious values happen during the Olympics or the World Championships,” Stray-Gundersen told Uppdrag Granskning of another skiers’ profile. “This is cold-blooded cheating.” 
 
According to the programme, 41 percent of the cross-country skiers who have won medals between 2001-2017 showed at least one suspicious test result, but despite this only one in 50 have ever been found guilty of doping. 
 
Many Russian skiers were found to have suspicious test results, but skiers from the US, Austria, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic, also had suspicious results. Two skiers from Sweden had suspicious results. 
 
Per Andersson, chief doctor for the Swedish cross-country skiing team, said that the results for the Swedish skier were enough to justify further investigation. 
 
“If we see those kinds of high values, we would naturally want to look closer at that skier. I agree with that. But a high ‘off-score’ is not in itself enough to disqualify a skier," he said.  
 
“I feel very confident that if this is about skiers who is competing in the Winter Olympics in South Korea, there is very likely to be a natural explanation.” 
 
 
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