During 2016 a system of long term cheating in Worldloppet races was discovered. A work group looked into the case and found a lot more than expected.
One of the interesting and valuable features of Worldloppet (WL) is the system of WL Master. It has certainly played a big role in the success of WL. The WL Master title enjoys a huge prestige and all those who have obtained the title are rightfully proud of it. Many skiers have begun collecting multiple Masters, as shown by the fact that in September 2016 there were 3846 WL Masters whereas 4346 Master titles had been awarded.
The cheating system has existed for many years and was performed by a group of skiers, all «multiple masters». How? One skier is doing a race and carrying the timing chip of another skier who is not doing the race, and is not even present on the location. Both start numbers and chips are picked up, but one chip and start number is put in the skier’s pocket during race. Both chips are registering electronically during race and two WL passports are stamped after race. Which later leads to two Master Diplomas. For skiers seeking multiple Masters this system led to «results», false Masters. This means there are many invalid Master diplomas today, shown in WL webpages. According to the rules both skiers involved in the scheme are disqualified and if a Master diploma contains a disqualified race that Master and all results in it become invalid.
This cheating scheme is destroying the credibility and value of the WL Master performance. Some Master-skiers have already expressed their disappointment and anger at this. They feel the quest for WL Masters becomes without honor and meaningless, and are questioning their future quest for more Masters.
The work group of «investigators» looked at the results of past WL races and found the same pattern in many races going back as far as 2011 (older races were not looked at). The proofs of cheating are undisputable and consist of electronic records (times given by the chips) and pictures/videos. The chips indicate identical times (intermediate and finish) of two members of the cheating group whereas the pictures/videos show the presence of only one skier (pictures of the second skier are not available for the good reason that he did not ski the race). A report on these findings was sent to WL who handled the case at their annual Worldloppet Congress in June 2016. The investigating work group making the reports was all IAWLS members and this cheating system was also discovered by IAWLS members.
Something has to be done.
This massive and unprecedented cheating led to strong reactions. WL-congress made some statements and decisions which included to delete all cheat results and affected masters already submitted. This was after carefully analyzing the documents, connected pictures and films in reports given to them. And WL also made a statement saying that the cheats are no more welcome at any of the Worldloppet races. This means that no new WL Master applications will be accepted from this group of cheats. These are very strong and clear words from WL.
We find that these decisions are appropriate. Now we wait for WL actions to be done. We have seen that some WL-race results affected here are changed into disqualified status so things are happening. That is needed because we must show the world of skiers that cheating and fake Masters are handled and punished properly. So that WL Master awards again can have the high status they deserve. We hope so.
We will follow up on this case and inform you how WL handles it.
Good luck to you all in coming WL races.