On the podium is an athlete who has just won silver at the World Ski Championships in Oberstdorf in 1987. He has a secret that would later speed up tests for blood doping.
OBERSTDORF: Combined runner Kerry Lynch listens to “Yes we love” from the second step of the podium with Torbjørn Løkken as gold winner. Trond-Arne Bredesen has gone in the course of his life in bronze.
Løkken was to become a national hero after the individual triumph and later silver in the team match. Lynch became a villain.
The American, standing with a medal around his neck and a bouquet of flowers in his hand, knew that he had been dipped in blood. But he also knew that there were no methods to expose him. They were not approved.
Later that year, the American Ski Federation discovered some airline tickets that they were unaware of. A doctor had been somewhere he should not be. Lynch had been bloodshed at the airport in Munich on his way to the World Cup.
When this came out, coach Dough Peterson and leader Jim Page disagreed. One was cursed and revealed what had happened. Lynch had no choice. He had to tell the whole bloody story.
And then blood testing became law
For the further doping work, this incident should mean a lot.
Inggard Lereim was the Ski Federation’s chief physician in Oberstdorf, and on the medical committee of the International Ski Federation (FIS). He states that already at the next World Cup in 1989 in Lahti, blood samples were taken for the first time.
– In Oberstdorf two years earlier, it was only tested in the urine. That is why Lynch was not revealed, he says.
The suspicion of blood doping had been there for a long time, something former national team coach Magnar Lundemo in cross-country skiing had expressed in connection with the Olympics in Sarajevo (1984). But it took time before suspicion became tangible evidence in the anti-doping work.
– In Lahti, blood samples were taken for the first time in the history of the sport. It had been adopted the year before, and was of great importance for the anti-doping work, Professor Lereim believes.
No one was taken in this championship in Finland, and that is because the analyzes were not good enough. Only blood percentage and foreign blood could be detected, not EPO, the hormone that stimulates the development of red blood cells.
– It was still a breakthrough that we were allowed. In the 2001 World Cup, which also took place in Lahti, new test methods emerged. Then hemohesis (HES) could be revealed. That substance had been on the ban list for a year, and could be traced via urine tests. But there were only two doping laboratories in the whole world that had the analysis tools: One was in Cologne. The other in Helsinki, just over ten miles from Lahti.
In that championship, six Finns were taken on their own home turf. The word scandal was in all the years later associated with this championship. Finnish cross-country skiing was almost ruined.
The scandal in Seefeld
In the previous World Cup, a new host nation was shocked. Max Hauke was then taken in the middle of a supply of blood in his arm, when the police stormed into his hotel room. He and teammate Dominik Baldauf were arrested on 27 February together with Aleksej Poltoranin, Karel Tammjärv and Andreas Veerpalu.
– Something so stupid to sit with old-fashioned blood transfusion equipment. I almost did not think they dared to do this so openly, comments Lereim.
– What kind of significance did the incident in Oberstdorf have in 1987?
– It helped us to accelerate the introduction of blood tests as part of the test regimen. And the blood tests in 1989 happened faster because we had the scandal from two years earlier.
Today, Lereim, still a member of the FIS medical committee, believes that the test procedures and analyzes are much better, but even more important – there is a much greater sports policy will in the anti-doping work.
Eight questions and answers about blood doping
Had to pick up the silver myself
So what happened to the medal that Trond-Arne Bredesen should have had in February 14 February 1987?
The 20-year-old had competed in his life and was brilliantly satisfied. Together with their roommate, Torbjørn Løkken, four years older, they celebrated the triumph and the later team silver. Lynch was also at the party, but then he was banned for two years. Bredesen received the silver medal in Norway.
– I had to go to the office of the Norwegian Ski Association to pick it up and deliver the bronze, which went to fourth man Hermann Weinbuch.
The German, reigning world champion, had been the big favorite and led after the jump race. But he froze completely when Løkken from position 19 passed 18 men in the cross-country trail.
Weinbuch has now been the national team coach in combined for Germany for a few years.
– In retrospect, there was not much talk about this case. Lynch was banned and the Americans thought it was embarrassing, says the 54-year-old.
Lynch returned as national team coach in the combined later, as coach of the American team.