For the Czech biathlon season ended symbolically. They have achieved success on the Playground and bravely fought for the purity of their sport. Both are intertwined in a world Cup final. On Friday in Oslo Gabriela Soukalova won the crystal globe in the sprint, and during the award ceremony refused to shake hands with the President of the International biathlon Union Anders Besseberg, who became the object of criticism because of doping scandals.
“If he’d reflect on his actions, it had been there would not. It is not interested in the athletes, our rights and certainly not the best conditions for us — it is only interested in himself. I don’t agree with it. So I didn’t shake hands with him. He stared at me, thinking that I’m kidding. I smiled and told him: “Sorry. I give you hand”,” so Koukalova described the situation portal iSport.cz. Today we publish material about how the struggle of the Czech biathletes doping affected their relationship with Russian athletes at the recent world Championships in Austria.
In the area between the crowded stands and a shooting range some teams celebrate a new victory. The Italians, became the bronze prize-winners, laughing loudly and shouting. Silver medalist Gabriela Soukalova flies into the air and falls back into the hands of colleagues from the Czech team, who then joined forces again raise it to the clouds. Not only the Germans: the new world champion Laura dahlmeier went all out on the competition, so head coach had to literally drain it away from prying eyes. But finally the German team with the winner, whose legs tremble appears before the audience and rivals.
Then those 20 people congratulate each other, standing in front of the just built for winners podium, Pat each other on shoulders and have fun laughing. The biathlon, more recently, the former minor discipline, but over the last five years rapidly gained popularity, and still enjoys the reputation of the sport in which similar congratulations and sincere smile. However, at the recently ended world Cup in the Austrian Hochfilzen idyll already failed. In the friendly world of biathlon unfolded full-scale combat systematic doping, which was announced by the international investigation took the Russian athletes, with the consent of their sports Federation and with the full support of the most senior politicians and intelligence agencies. And members of the Czech team were the ones who led the campaign against such practices. They are making progress, but this struggle is not pleasant.
And the winner is…
“I went like a scalded cat,” — says the head of the Czech biathlon jiří Hamza the beginning of September last year. In the Moldavian Chisinau took place the international biathlon Congress in a secret ballot of its members decided that the next world Cup in 2021 will conduct the Russian city of Tyumen. At other times this choice would not surprise anyone: where else to hold a world competition, if not only rebuilt the Siberian sports complex in one of the recognized biathlon powers. But we live in a special time.
Through investigation of the International anti-doping Agency (WADA), led by canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, in June last year, the world learned that after the failure of their athletes at the Olympics in Vancouver in 2010, Russia decided to seriously prepare for future competitions. When authorities coordinated by the cooperation of athletes, coaches, sports federations, the Russian chemical laboratories and intelligence agencies, the FSB has developed a unique system that made possible the mass doping in almost all sports and allowed people to escape responsibility.
It was primarily the manipulation of urine samples (the main tool to track the cleanliness of the athletes), their substitution and change. Shortly after the publication of the report, McLaren began to respond. For example, at the summer Olympics in Rio are unable to participate in a large part of the Russian athletes, as athletics has been one of the “most dope” sports in Russia.
WADA also recommended that all sporting federations not to hold on the territory of Russia any serious actions, while Russia does not recognize his guilt (the Russians rejected the report, calling it an attempt by enemies and competitors to “smear” their country) and yet the anti-doping program of the Russian Federation again will not be reliable. In addition, during the meeting of the heads of the biathlon federations in Chisinau was already known that preparing the second part of the so-called report of McLaren, devoted to the winter Olympic games in Sochi. There is little doubt that the report will be new revelations, but now about winter sports.
“The mere fact that in such a situation, the Russian candidacy shortly before the vote, publicly supported the President of the Norwegian Federation Anders Besseberg, it was enough. But when in the end, the Tyumen and still won, came the shock. We had a fight right at the Congress,” says Hamza. The Czech disappointment was aggravated by the fact that for the right to host the competition with Tyumen competed and the Czech town of Nove mesto na Morave. Therefore, the Russian officials declared the Czech criticism of pure envy. “Nonsense. If defeated the Slovenians, who also applied, I would have congratulated them and would not say a word” — says Hamza.
Not only Czech athletes could not believe the decision of the functionaries. Immediately after the vote the results called “scandal” the head of the Union of Norwegian biathlon match Slokvik, absolutely does not agree with the support, as already mentioned, Tyumen expressed his countryman and President of the Federation Besseberg. At the time of the biathlon movement divided into two halves, and finally it became clear that the leadership of the world biathlon, which enjoyed a reputation as a friendly and honest sport, fully succumbed to Russian pressure and went against the global trend.
“In my arms there’s no evidence of bribery. I don’t want to blame anybody. President Besseberg your post is already more than 20 years, and I think he’s lost touch with reality. Differently I can’t really explain something like that,” answers jiří Hamza on the question of what, in his opinion, happened in Chisinau. “But it was clear that we are not alone in their attitude to the Russian doping, even though we lost the vote. I began to think what I can do. I was sure that at stake is the future of our sport. Doping destroys the sport and we didn’t want to end up like Cycling, where doping is already suspect everybody,” says Hamza.
Today we know that the fight against Chisinau solution lasted five months and eventually led to victory. By decision of the extraordinary Congress of the Russian Federation deprived of the right to host the championship, and it will be held elsewhere. In the eyes of Russian athletes, politicians and the media to blame for this loss and the enemy number one were the Czechs — unfair competition, which under the pretext of the fight against doping are trying to hurt Russia.
You’ll end up badly
During the recently concluded championship we read in local media that water bottle for the Czech athletes could not for a moment be left unattended, and the key of the door in the kitchen was constantly in sight. All because of fear of Russian revenge. “This is not a novelty of this season-we always keep their belongings under supervision, — says the press-Secretary of the Czech national team, tomáš Hermann. But the fact is that this time we have carefully reviewed all the instructions carefully and follow them. I will say bluntly: we are confronting a system in which an important role is played by the Russian special services. It is a fact”.
According to Herrmann, the possibility of poisoning or physical assault, the members of the Czech national team didn’t and they think it’s incredible. However, to destroy the reputation and career is very simple. Says Tomas Herrmann, pour in the food or water is prohibited or stimulating drug or, alternatively, a substance that is used to hide doping during a trial – a matter of seconds. “A positive test from one of the Czech athletes would mean the end.”
During the broadcast of the biathlon Russian commentators explained to their viewers that the Czech team is full of “notorious Russophobes” and “poor” and relations between the Czech and Russian athletes and coaches has been reduced to zero. “The Russian team has always stayed on the sidelines, and now we do not speak, — looking for the words the head coach of the national team of Czech Republic ondřej Ribari, They must really think we want to hurt them, they and Russia. So they look at us and behave accordingly. It is unpleasant, but tolerable”.
TEXT messages, phone calls and emails that he “will end badly” or will be dead, and that the Czechs, who assumed the role of defenders of honest sport, “definitely something there”, jiří Hamza received from strangers — usually Russian-speaking people since the end of the Congress in September. Now, during the championship, the intensity of the messages increased. They come not only to him but also some of the athletes from Czech Republic and other countries, which in recent months became the face of the anti-doping campaign in the sport. “We compared. The threats come from the same numbers and email addresses. Maybe it’s some crazy. Or maybe it’s a tactic,” notes Hamza. “We try not to pay attention to it. I foresaw something like that, and it doesn’t surprise me” — shrugs he shoulders.
The status of the recipient of such messages Hamza finally confirmed in December last year. Shortly before the competition in Nove mesto na Morave was published the second report of McLaren, which confirmed the expectations: the Russian scheme was extended to winter sports, and was involved in at least 31 Russian biathlete. “I read the report of the night, and I was disgusting. I decided to hold a press conference”. On it Hamza has openly put forward the most radical at the time requirements: the leadership of the world biathlon must deprive the Russian Federation is not only the world Cup, but competitions world Cup events that are held throughout the year. In other words, in Russia there should be no competitions until the Russian do not recognize the error and begin to correct it.
At that moment, almost shaped by another force, which in the end played a decisive role. The petition, which sought the same as Hamza, was gradually signed by the athletes and their coaches from 26 countries. The petition was initiated by the Czech Michal Slesingr and American Lowell Bailey. They are both successful athletes. Joined — which was considered was the deciding factor — the legendary French biathlete and possibly the best athlete in the world Martin Fourcade. More than 150 athletes and 50 coaches, who had threatened to boycott the Russian competition in protest, became the force that made the world Federation to make concessions in January.
Another important element of success was the fact that the international Federation began to exert open pressure of the German Union. Don’t forget that donations of private German companies is still very helpful to the world biathlon. Expectations that the main sponsor of the biathlon will be the Russian Gazprom several years ago, slowed down international sanctions and economic problems of this mining company.
Finally, the international Federation yielded to the pressure and convened an extraordinary Congress, which, as has been said, shortly before the end of the world Cup has deprived Tyumen the right to host this competition. Nove mesto na Morave will not qualify for the vacant seat.
We’re not done yet
Crowded complex in Hochfilzen that in the stands and along the tracks can accommodate about 20 thousand spectators, is full of typical fans: people in Tyrolean costume with cow bells, the Norwegians, like the big plush Viking, Russian, strolling around the complex flags in big hats with ear-flaps. In the audience area in Hochfilzen Norwegians, Germans, Austrians, Russians and Czechs prevail over other Nations. The hostility which reigns over the sports field and in the media, among the public at first glance invisible.
Separate groups of fans fun perekrikivayutsya: their Russian colleagues do not hurt, and they adequately respond to the encouraging shouts. However, the majority of Russian fans, whom we approached, we are convinced that what is happening is unfair. “To take dope is bad, but I do not believe that it will only accept our. Someone else also exactly cheating,” says Michael of groups of fans from Krasnoyarsk, which, however, until Austria was nearby, because for several years, he resided in Munich. “It is envy. And stupidity, says his friend Eugene. — Just envy. It is not doping, and in Russia”.
On the question of how could so many doping violations committed by Russian athletes, he has a simple answer: “If the whole world decided that doping only accept Czechs, they would have published any report and gave a lot of evidence.” And skier-Amateur Alena walking around the complex alone with a small flag painted on his left cheek, on the contrary, expressed caution. “That’s our problem. It is a fact. But doping could not take all. Some just pure, and I’m here to support them,” says a young woman who arrived from Moscow and has a rest in the Alps, skiing.
“Yes, I am satisfied that finally it was all over. But the Czech fans can for a few years to forget about the world Cup in the Czech Republic. Now it no one would have voted,” says jiří Hamza. In June, the international Federation will consider the requirements of athletes, which she promised to discuss. They require for doping in biathlon to disqualify for four years, and for the athlete such a blow will be stronger than now provided for two years of Ineligibility, after which you can still return to professional sports without much trouble. In addition, the requirements provide for a large (noticeable even for rich countries) monetary fines imposed on the Federation, whose athletes will be caught doping. The result is still unclear, so that, says Gamza, for him and his colleagues we’re not done yet.
“Probably, all will end well — suggests the chief coach ondřej Ribari. — Helps us a little bit that we are now quite successful and biathlon in the Czech Republic became a phenomenon”. And he’s right: thanks to the reputation of the humble and likeable athletes of the words of the Czech biathletes have weight. Gabriela Soukalova, for example, has made people’s unconditional love. “But even if this were not so, we would have done the same. I am sure, — said Ryberg. — If we were silent, and if we failed anything differently, I would certainly have wondered whether it is worth trying to do something in sport.”
McLaren and the future
The Commission’s investigation of McLaren, which last year released two reports, began after the Russian sports physician Grigory Rodchenkov said in the international media that Russia is constantly a substitute for urine samples used for anti-doping control. For some athletes, the Russian anti-doping Agency pre-cooked “clean” urine samples that were replaced by samples taken after the competition. Russian secret service FSB figured out how to access certified for worldwide use containers to the untrained eye did not notice the hacking the press.
This system was a reaction to the results of the Russian team at the Olympic games in Vancouver in 2010. There the Russian team has won only 15 medals and finished 11th place in number of awards. After four years at the Olympics in Sochi, using “system” was achieved completely different results: the 33 medals and the first place among national teams.
McClaren and his team came to the conclusion that the scheme involved more than a thousand athletes, although actually, apparently, there were even more. To date, after repeated inspections of samples of the Olympic medals have lost 13 Russian athletes, of which the award was returned to only one. Expected new revelations.