Polish cross-country competitor claims asthma medicine helped Bjørgen win.
Double Olympic gold medal-winner Marit Bjørgen has asthma. Last week’s victories against Justyna Kowalczyk have left a bad taste in the Polish competitor’s mouth.
“She wouldn’t have won without her medicines. Marit knows very well she wouldn’t have had much to show without her helpers, neither against me, nor the other women,” Kowalczyk tells the Polish site Wirtualna Polska.
Kowalczyk, who took silver in the Women’s Individual Sprint Classic, and bronze in the 15km Pursuit, alleges Bjørgen takes asthma drugs because she feels threatened.
Bjørgen has chosen to brush the criticism aside, claiming Kowalczyk’s statements just show she’s a bad loser.
“There’s a difference between asthma and blood doping. I wouldn’t have benefitted from the medicine if I weren’t an asthmatic anyway,” the Norwegian tells VG.
Bjørgen’s medicine is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Kowalczyk also claims athletes often “fake” illnesses to get access to drugs.
Åge Skinstad, head of sports for the Norwegian team in Vancouver, thinks this is absurd, calling it “absolutely exquisite”. Bjørgen was given dispensation to use stronger medicine by the International Ski Federation (FIS) last summer after her condition worsened.
Slovenia’s Petra Majdic, who won bronze in the Women’s Individual Sprint Classic, also disagrees with Kowalczyk’s allegation.
“I don’t understand why she wants to pick a fight about it with Marit. I can’t walk around thinking about what everyone else does, even though I’m not an asthmatic myself.”