Scientists stick by Veerpalu

  • 2013-03-06
  • From wire reports

JUDGEMENT DELAYED : Andrus Veerpalu awaits the court decision on doping allegations.

TALLINN - A team of Tartu University Ph.D.s disclosed the results of a 1.5-year long study on the scandalous doping case of Estonian double Olympic gold medalist Andrus Veerpalu, ahead of a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to postpone again a ruling in the case, reports ERR. They said their test showed that the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) test was unreliable.

“Of course, there will always be some margin of error - even the WADA officials will not argue with that. But the question is how big that margin of error is in the given test. We believe that WADA’s alleged low margin of error is utterly false. My clear message is that, in the course of this case, prohibited substances have not been found in Andrus Veerpalu’s blood [samples],” Sulev Koks, a professor of physiology at the University of Tartu, told ERR radio.
The court did not give any explanation for the postponement. Officials hypothesized that the delay may have been related to it being preoccupied with the current Skiing World Championships, or needing to still gather more information on the Veerpalu case.

The retired cross country skiing hero’s attorney, Aivar Pilv, guessed that the court needs more time for analysis, mainly due to questions raised by the Estonian researchers.
“This will shape the principles for the years coming,” said Pilv. “Clearly our group of researchers from the University of Tartu [...] have done a very thorough and analytical work, raised many questions and referred to many problems. We think that the questions raised by the researchers are the reason that the Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS] needs so much time for thinking,” he said.

One of the only skeptics to voice an opinion last week, an official from the Estonian Anti-Doping Association, Kristjan Port, told ETV that the research work allegedly invalidating the WADA methodology was not objective.
If the sports court were to find Veerpalu not guilty, Port said, it would hit WADA’s reputation.
Port pointed out that, according to WADA scientists, the chance of Veerpalu being wrongly deemed guilty is one in 10,000. “The test has been developed without accounting for modern scientific standards and using an unforgivably small number of test subjects,” Estonian researches said.

“The test’s creators claim that it will incorrectly give a positive result for an individual who has not injected growth hormone in only one instance out of 10,000. Clearly, 100 test subjects does not give basis to make such an assertion. Veerpalu’s accusations, therefore, are unjust,” the researchers wrote.

Veerpalu was tested positive for doping in 2011, losing his state-paid stipend and reputation. On Jan. 29, 2011, Veerpalu tested positive for excess levels of growth hormone following a training run in Otepaa.
Veerpalu has denied any accusations of using doping and has promised to dispute the results to clear his name.