IN IT Norwegian-dominated cross-country skiing is fun with every single foreign surprise. This is certainly true of Tatjana Sorina; the Russian 27-year-old who hardly anyone in the sport had heard of, but who still suddenly flew almost as fast through the track as Therese Johaug.
Tatjana became the big name during the start of the World Cup in Ruka. Remember that it could just as easily have been our own Michael Gunnulfsen. Then no one would have done anything other than cheer on yet another of the sensations that make all top sports better.
Both Russia and Norway have such a wide range of cross-country skiing that it is not the least bit strange that new, unknown big runners surprisingly appear. If you become good at cross-country skiing in these two countries, you are pr. definition also at the top of the world. Exactly that is a sporting matter of course.
But because Tatiana is Russian, she must now instead also defend herself in the domestic media:
– It’s no secret. I gave birth, made a profit, rested enough and missed skiing, she explained to the Russian press about the quick way from a random place on the Russian national team, via the delivery room straight to the top of the world.
This should be another great story about women who after childbirth become stronger in the toughest endurance sports:
– Maybe Sorina got a real mom boost. Like Marit Bjørgen got, Therese Johaug suggested when Dagbladet talked to her after the race.
Therese thought it was just fun with a new competitor. But because this competitor is Russian, Tatjana’s breakthrough comes with a question mark.
And it’s just the Russians’ own fault.
FOR Tatjana Sorina dumps right into a Russian chaos after decades of fraud. Right now, the judges of the Sports Arbitration Court (CAS) are working on the appeal against Russia’s state cheating before, during and after the Sochi Olympics. The verdict will come in a couple of weeks, and may mean that neither Tatjana nor any other Russian skier will be allowed to participate in the World Championships in Oberstdorf in February.
So far, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has banned Russians from all major international championships for the next four years. If CAS confirms that penalty, then the World Ski Championships will end.
After all that has been revealed about state systematic dope fraud, it unfortunately seems like a necessary verdict.
RUSSIAN sports authorities must realize that the usual cheating can not just continue. It is time to talk openly about how all drug abuse has broken down Russian sports culture, but the Russians are doing the exact opposite.
When WADA requested that the appeal case against the exclusion of Russia be open to the public in CAS, the Russians denied the outside world access. Along the way, they also fired the outspoken head of the National Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), who demanded clean-up in the leadership of several Russian special unions.
Too many Russians with power will thus still cheat in peace.
THE only open hint about drugs right after Tatiana’s shock run in Ruka, got in touch with a reporter from the Russian website Sportbox.ru. He had gotten hold of the surprise girl just when she was called in for the obligatory check for the very best cross-country skiers:
– Oh, they’re calling me in to the doping control, said Tatjana, and wanted to leave the interview.
– Then they have to wait until you have spoken to the press, the reporter replied.
– Okay yes; but be quick, encouraged the 27-year-old who would like to talk a little more.
It is understandable. Tatjana Sorina has been around for so long and achieved so little in the cross-country track that it was fun with all kinds of attention.
Then she should have stopped talking about doping. But there will be more of that kind of talk in the future. Especially if this sensational progress is short.
RUSSIAN shooting stars have disappeared before. Two years ago, it was Anastasia Sedova who suddenly had the strength to ask from most of the world elite. It gave bronze in the Seefeld WC, but then it was over for the time being. She became pregnant last summer at the same time as Tatjana.
Initially, Sedova’s short-lived success was a completely everyday story from top sports. Many skiers get good late, and have very short careers. No suspect in it.
The problem for Anastasia was just that she for the breakthrough had placed itself in the middle of the shadow that accompanies Russian sporting achievements.
In the run-up to the breakthrough, Anastasia moved from the western Russian training group led by German Markus Cramer in Davos, Switzerland, back to his hometown of Sarov. It is a nuclear power plant and is held closed both for foreigners and regular international doping control.
Because the scandalous national control system RUSADA had been thrown out by WADA, all credible international health checks by Anastasia Sedova had to take place outside the city limits:
– Last season, before the Olympics, I had to travel out of town for an hour and had to sit in the car and wait, wait, wait. No one came, ok, then I went home. That’s how it was every day, Anastasia explained the control routines to Dagbladet.
THIS was at the same time the explanation for a broken system. Russian skiers, like all international top athletes, are obliged to tell where they are at all times. It allows doping hunters to control anyone at any time.
Since Anastasia lived in a closed city, she had to drive every day to an agreed hour at a petrol station across the city limits to be available for inspection.
It never came:
– The national RUSADA inspectors came to us inside the city. When RUSADA was closed, no one tested us, Anastasia told Dagbladet at the time.
Maybe not so strange if her career is short.
ON THE OTHER HAND it is strange that the Russians refuse to acknowledge that all this revealed fraud combined with a suspicious national doping control, again and again hits their own stars.
In such a system, the new cross-country sensation Tatjana Sorina also has no chance of getting the praise she deserves for her efforts.
And in the long run, neither Russian nor international sports can accept that.
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