The Worldloppet Newsletter No. 2 which appeared on February 3 contained an article “Cheating case closed”. WL had remained completely silent about this scandal since May 2016, when a group of skiers, members of IAWLS discovered the cheating system and reported it to WL. We had already heard a few words about it from Angelo Corradini in his welcome speech at the reception of WL Masters in Cavalese on January 29. He gave a surprising interpretation of the WL Annual General Meeting’s decision last June (it decided that the three cheats are not any more welcome at WL races): “That they are not welcome does not mean that they cannot come. They can come but they are not welcome”. Strange joggling with words that has no meaning.
In fact Corradini wanted to defend the attitude of the WL management. We had already been informed by the WL CEO that the cancellation of all Master titles obtained by cheating is, in her opinion, a sufficiently severe punishment.
WL skiers cannot accept this policy. The cheating did not occur in one race. We are in the presence of a repeated cheating system over a period of seven years where each of the culprits was involved in at least eight races where the system was applied. This is an offense to all WL Masters who have honestly struggled to reach this prestigious title that they are proud of.
The cheating could have continued forever, had not a group of perspicacious IAWLS members discovered it. The WL Magazine article does not contain a word of thanks to that group. The article mentioned that 9 Master titles were removed from the three cheats (one third of the total!), and that they were told that they were not welcome at any WL event this season. The WL president’s words were a little different: “We must be strict and hard. With a one- year ban justice is done”. Which one-year ban? The cheats have registered and participated in all WL races since the beginning of 2017 as if nothing has happened. Were they not warned that if they come they are not welcome?
Dear WL managers, your weak and lacking handling of the case is inacceptable for WL skiers. We have gotten many angry feedbacks on this. It is not enough that “the concerned skiers have apologised, learned from their mistake and promised that it will never happen again”. An organized, repeated cheating system is not a mistake, it is a planned activity that must be punished. For the more than 3000 WL Masters and almost 15000 passport holders the “not welcome” sentence can have only one meaning: these cheats are banned from WL races and certainly banned from any more masters. To see these faces in Worldloppet races reminds us of large scale cheating – not a good feeling.
Text by Hannes Larsson