HELSINKI, Finland The head of Finland's skiing body
resigned Tuesday just before positive drug tests were confirmed for
four cross country skiers.
In a scandal that has shaken the country for nearly three weeks,
Esa Klinga said he had failed to stop top skiers from breaking drug
Klinga, the managing director of the Finnish Ski Association,
has begun the "immediate transfer" of his duties to other members
of the organization.
Tests were performed on the entire Finnish cross-country squad
after two skiers initially showed positive results at last month's
Nordic wworld championships in Lahti. Four other skiers had traces
of banned performance-enhancing drugs in their systems.
The association also identified the sixth skier as Virpi
Kuitunen, who won the women's pursuit in Lahti.
All will be banned for two years and Finland will forfeit three
medals won at Lahti the men's team gold in the 40-kilometer relay
and silver medals in the men's and women's pursuit.
The government on Tuesday proposed mandatory records be
maintained for top winter athletes that would include results of
all drug tests during training and competitions, and permitted
medication for possible ailments.
The system would be implemented by the Finnish team before the
Salt Lake City Olympics next year, Culture Minister Suvi Linden
Lawmakers also debated a new bill that would ban the
manufacture, import and distribution of doping substances, but it
was not expected to become law for several months.
The World Anti-Doping Agency in Lausanne, Switzerland, named
Belgian lawyer Philippe Verbiest as the third member of a Finnish
government-appointed group that is investigating the scandal. He
has helped compile anti-drug rules in cycling.
"I know that things like this may happen, but I cannot say that
I was particularly surprised that this happened in this particular
sport in this particular country," Verbiest told Finnish YLE
The government has demanded a full account from the national
skiing body, whose leaders said they knew nothing about the drug
use. They are to submit their report Thursday.
Last week, the team's chief cross-country ski coach, Kari-Pekka
Kyro, was suspended with two other trainers. He said the six skiers
were given the plasma volume expander, hydroxyethyl starch,
although it had been banned last year by the IOC.
Kyro took full responsibility and apologized for his "gross
He also said the two team physicians, Pirkka Makela and
Jukka-Pekka Turpeinen, knew about the drug use. Turpeinen and
Makela resigned after the first cases were uncovered.
Among those implicated in the scandal are Finnish sports heroes
Mika Myllyla and Harri Kirvesniemi, 42, who was considered an
example for all budding winter athletes.
Also testing positive were Jari Isometsa, Janne Immonen and
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