The head of the Finnish Ski Association Ismo Hämäläinen said they did not satisfy requests made by disgraced ski coach Mati Alaver and Estonian skiers were granted necessary permits for travel to Oslo for an international competition after the Estonian Ski Association applied for the permits.
Hämaläinen told Finnish daily Ilta-Sanomat that he did receive a request from Mati Alaver who was attempting to acquire access for Estonian national team skiers, managed currently by Aivar Rehemaa, for travel to Oslo for an International Ski Federation (FIS) competition. The association head said Alaver did not request a permit for himself, but for Rehemaa and his training group, portal Delfi (link in Estonian) reported.
As the Finnish associationthen received an application for a different training group from the Estonian Ski Association, he got in contact with his Estonian counterpart. "I began to investigate what their practices were: Were applications coming from individual groups separately or was the association going to make a general application? That is when Alaver's name came to play, because I told them," Hämaläinen said.
He confirmed that the Estonian Ski Association applied for a permit on Tuesday, which the Finnish association green-lighted. Alaver's unofficial request was not granted.
The Estonian Anti-Doping Foundation (SA Eesti Antidoping)/Anti-Doping and Sports Ethics Foundation (Eesti Antidopingu ja Spordieetika Sihtasutus) hit ski coach Aivar Rehemaa with a temporary ban after news came out that he had been working with disgraced ski coach Mati Alaver.
Rehemaa told daily Õhtuleht (link in Estonian) on Tuesday: "I think these allegations are completely absurd. I do not understand them. I can confirm that I will hire a top Estonian lawyer tomorrow who will represent me and help with this case. This is all absurd to me."
The ski team training in Finland currently will be headed by national team head coach Jaanus Teppan in Rehemaa's place. One of the skiers due to take part in the training camp and competition, Martin Himma, has already pulled out, saying he does not want to be involved in the scandal.
Ski coach Mati Alaver "the general" of an international doping fraternity
Alaver's nickname within the illicit blood doping ring had been "the general", and he also used the pseudonym "Roger Federer" in communications.
Former ski star, two-time olympic gold medalist and two-time world champ Andrus Veerpalu was also involved in the ring, providing blood doping to his son, Andreas, who was caught in a probe in Austria at the world championships in 2019.
Blood doping is somewhat of a misleading term; the practise involves removing a quantity of blood from an athlete ahead of a competition, only to transfuse it back into their system just before a race, with the intention of this giving them a performance boost due to enhanced oxygen-bearing capacity the new blood brings.
The blood must be stored carefully at a low temperature, activities which Alaver, Schmidt and Andrus Veerpalu were all allegedly involved in. The "extra" blood must often be re-drawn after a competition, to dodge the suspicions of authorities conducting blood tests post-race.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste