“Should we take this as some sort of statement?” SVT sports journalist Jacob Hård said after the costume was spotted, according to the Expressen newspaper.
“Without doubt. I absolutely believe that this is some sort of way of supporting the Russian system,” replied expert commentator Anders Blomquist, a cross-country veteran. “He has spent a long time in Russia, speaks Russian and likes the Russian system.”
The International Olympic Committee last year sanctioned 43 Russian Olympians for doping in the 2014 Winter Olympics, stripping away 13 Olympic medals.
But the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the start of last month overturned the sanctions on 28 of the athletes. None of the sanctioned athletes, however, took part in the 2018 Olympic Games last month in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Despite his attention-grabbing move, Tscharnke didn't even make the top ten in the race.
Norwegian cross country skier Andreas Nygaard won with a time of 4.24.36, marking the seventh year in a row a Norwegian has come first.
Swedish skier Bob Niemi Impola came in second place and another Norwegian, Stian Hoelgaard, came third.
“It's so unbelievable that I got the chance to win today. It's a big dream to win this. I'm so happy,” Nygaard told Sweden’s state broadcaster SVT. “I was hoping for group of us to break out ahead and I had a lot of power at the finish.”
Nygaard was beaten to second place in last year’s competition by his countryman John Kristian Dahl.
Sweden’s Lina Korsgren topped her Norwegian rival to win the women’s race.
Korsgren told SVT after her victory: “This is the best day of my life”.
Tscharnke, who took the silver medal in the 2010 Olympics, announced last summer that he was ending his international skiing career, judghing that a string of injuries made it “impossible” for him to again be a world-class competitor.