One of the big topics of discussion in Finnish sports at the end of autumn has been the television series Nelonen Lahti 2001, which has been shown on Ruudu for two episodes so far.
Mikko Leppilammen the creators of the main-starring series have not promised that the work is based entirely on reality. Nevertheless, the epochal mistakes of Lahti 2001 and factual errors and the actors’ naturally lacking skiing skills compared to the star skiers of the World Championships have raised a lot of discussion.
The main theme of the series is, of course, the failure of six Finnish skiers in doping tests due to the use of a plasma expander called Hemohes, which lowered blood levels. The creators of the series asked for help from several contemporary athletes and coaches during the preparation phase, but to no avail. Jari Isometsä and Mika Myllylä acting Jon-Jon Geitel and Johannes from Holopai and a few other actors were taught by a famous ski coach Reijo Jylhä.
In the series, two Norwegians appear in a significant role, i.e. the colleague and the mistress of the fictional journalist played by Leppilamme Therese Jensen (acting Veslemöy Mörkrid) and real-life characters Trond Teigen’s acted by Inggard Lereimnow 82, honorary member of the FIS Medical Committee.
At the World Championships in Lahti 2001, Lereim worked as an anti-doping supervisor for FIS. In Finland, he has been branded as a man who deliberately set off a doping trap set for the host country’s skiers. The television series in no way tries to change this image that Lereim already has tried for a long time change.
“I am sorry”
Doctor of medicine and professor emeritus Lereim, contacted by Urheilu from his hometown Trondheim, is not surprised by the image conveyed by the series.
– I am very sorry that such a lie has survived. For me, of course, you can make TV series about anything.
Lereim reminds us that his role in Lahti in 2001 was clearly smaller than what it has been made out to be during the past quarter of a century.
– So my job was to monitor that the local testers operate in accordance with the international regulations on doping testing. I did not target the testing to Finns, and it was not my decision that the samples were tested in one of the two laboratories where Hemohes could be found (Helsinki anti-doping laboratory). The decision to test the entire Finnish team was made by Wada (World Anti-Doping Agency). I did not join the decision in any way. Yet I have been painted as guilty of everything.
Lereim reminds that the preparation used by the Finns was unequivocally prohibited in the anti-doping rules, and the risk of being caught had to be clear. Having been involved in FIS activities for decades, although significantly more in ski jumping and combined than in cross-country skiing, Lereim emphasizes that Lahti 2001 is not a bright memory for him.
– I felt great sadness that an entire generation of Finnish skiers and an entire World Cup are only remembered for these events, Lereim remembers Mika Myllylä, Jari Isometsä, Janne Immonen, Harri Kirvesniemen, Virpi Kuitunen and Milla Jauhon fate soon 24 years ago.
Celebrate Niskanen’s gold
– I was extremely happy when Finland next organized the World Championships in Lahti (2017), and Iivo Niskanen took a wonderful world championship, says Inggard Lereim.
Between these two events, Mika Myllylä left 2011 for eternity.
Norwegian legends on the side of the track in Lahti 2001 were among others Frode Estilnow 51, who ended his national team career in 2007 as a four-time World Cup and two-time Olympic gold medalist.
– I got World Championship gold in 2001 and Olympic gold in 2002 because the original winner gave a positive doping sample. Of course, that kind of thing marks the images associated with those years, Estil admits to Urheilu.
Finland’s men’s relay victory in 2001 turned into a rejection when Finns Kirvesniemi and Myllylä gave a positive sample. A year later, Estil, who skied ahead of Estil in the pursuit of silver at the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, was cleaned from the statistics after the sample analyzes were completed Johann Mühlegg.
It would have been done in Norway as well
Estil laughs when he hears that some Finns have strongly questioned the making of a television series about a chain of events considered a national trauma, from which so much time has already passed.
– I believe that if something like that had happened with the Norwegian World Cup team in Oslo 2011, it would also have been made into a series. In a way, this tells how important both skiing and these athletes have been to Finns, from the famous Meråker sports high school, for example by Petter Northug thesis, the head of coaching says.
Estil says that 2001 did not hold any grudge against his Finnish colleagues in the first place. He met Isometsä after the end of this suspension from the 2003 season, messages have been exchanged with Kirvesniemi every year.
– I believe that the Finns who got caught in Lahti were also victims of a coaching system that drifted into wrong thought patterns. As sports buddies, they were close, spoke good Swedish. I have not accepted the blaming of Inggard Lereim for what happened. He was just doing his job.
Estil curiously asks if it is possible to see the Lahti 2001 series in Norway. This is open.
– I would very much like to watch the series.