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"Then the sport becomes very small and Norwegian"

2020-01-15T17:49:43.922Z

It looks like there could be many years of championships without Russian athletes. For some sports, this can result in a competitive disaster. "If we lose them, this sport will be very small and Norwegian," says the cross country's Calle Halfvarsson.



It is enough to look through the overall position in the World Cup to understand what the Russian cross country skiers, especially on the men's side, mean for the sport. Remove the World Cup leader Alexander Bolshunov and the overall three Sergey Ustiugov and it will be more or less the Norwegian championship of it all with Norway in six of the first seven places.

Following the international anti-doping organization Wada's announcement that it will shut down Russia's anti-doping organization Rusada - and thereby also Russian athletes - from the Olympic Games and the World Cup for the next four years, there is therefore a concern in the long distance sport.

Hope for justice

Finnish Iivo Niskanen ranks fourth in the World Cup and is the one who breaks the otherwise total Norwegian-Russian dominance among the men. He doesn't think the sport would feel good about losing such a strong nation as Russia.

-Of course, the best riders should be involved, and not least considering that Russia is a big country and an important market for the sport. Therefore, they want them to bring their athletes. But at the same time, if you have not handled things well enough and have not followed the rules, then you can do nothing about it. Hopefully it will be a fair decision in the end, says Niskanen.

Russia has appealed the verdict to the sports arbitration court, Cas, and at present the suspension does not appear to include the World Cup. But the sport would still hit hard if Russia disappeared from the World Cup and the Olympics, says the country's German men's coach Markus Cramer. That would be a problem for the ladies as well - Russia has normally seen a strong women's team, but this season there are four skiers who have become pregnant - but it is mainly men's sports that is threatened, he says.

-It would not be particularly interesting to follow the sport anymore. Then it might just be interesting to follow this sport if you live in Norway, says Cramer.

"We probably can't stand"

He is of course a party to the case, but many agree with him.

- They must be left. Russia is also a big country so it is good to have them. If we lose them, then this sport starts to get very, very small. Very small and Norwegian, says Calle Halfvarsson.

Former big star Petter Northug, now an expert on Norwegian TV2, does not even believe that the Norwegians hope for a sport without Russian competition.

-It would be negative if they disappeared, we need to bring the best Russian riders. Otherwise, there will be an even greater Norwegian dominance. That dominance has almost become too big already. So we probably can't stand it, says Northug.

Markus Cramer is most saddened by the fact that it is the activists who are affected, when in his opinion it is not the athletes who have failed.

-It's someone who has made mistakes at the federal level, in Sochi or Moscow or wherever it is, and it's really shit for the athletes. They haven't done anything wrong and that's what pains me so much, says Cramer.

Waiting for Cas message

So what will happen? At the international skiing association, Fis, you do not currently know and await the message from Cas. But Jakob Swanberg, who represents Sweden in Fis's medical committee, sees a possible problem in that riders are allowed to compete in the World Cup but not in championships.

-I can understand those who respond to it. It becomes very difficult to relate to the fact that some riders are suspended in championships and competitions in the World Cup. It sends strange signals. And what everyone is discussing is: How do you do to get the sport clean without in any unfair way excluding the clean riders so that they do not suffer ?, says Swanberg.

Source: svt

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