September 24, 2012
Juha Mieto, skiing, and steroids?
Kaarlo Kangasniemi, a Finnish Olympic gold medallist in weightlifting, says that he gave advice to the celebrated cross-country skier Juha Mieto on the use of anabolic steroids in 1975. Â Â Â Â Â Kangasniemi makes his claims in the new documentary film Sinivalkoinen valhe (“The Blue and White Lie”) by director Arto Halonen. The film goes through the history of the use of doping in Finnish skiing. Â Â Â Â Â According to Kangasniemi, he discussed anabolic steroids with Mieto in SaarijÃ¤rvi in 1975. A number of Finnish medallists from various key competitions had gathered in SaarijÃ¤rvi at the time. Â Â Â Â Â Kangasniemi says that the discussion took place in the sauna. "Jussi started to ask me about the use of hormones", Kangasniemi reports in the film. Â Â Â Â Â Kangasniemi says that he asked Mieto how much he had used steroids before. Mieto had said that he had used five milligrams of dianabol, Kangasniemi says. Â Â Â Â Â Kangasniemi also comments that he had told Mieto that an athlete in an endurance sport can use no more than 10 or 15 milligrams a day – otherwise the muscles will start growing too much. Â Â Â Â Â "He thanked me for the advice", Kangasniemi says. Â Â Â Â Â Kangasniemi won Finland's only gold medal at the Olympic Games in Mexico City in 1968. Â Â Â Â Â After his sporting career, he has admitted to having used performance-enhancing substances while competing. Anabolic steroids were banned in sports in 1975. Â Â Â Â Â Juha Mieto, for his part, is something of a legendary figure in Finnish sport. Â Â Â Â Â He won five medals at the Winter Olympics between 1976 and 1984, including a relay gold and a silver medal in the men’s 15km race at the Lake Placid games of 1980, when he missed out on gold by just one-hundredth of a second. Â Â Â Â Â Mieto parlayed his sporting career into a successful run for Parliament in 2007. Â Â Â Â Â He served one term as an MP, representing the Centre Party in the Vaasa constituency. Â Â Â Â Â Mieto has denied the exchange ever took place and says that the only time he ever met with Kangasniemi was in 1972, and that it must have been some other athlete he was referring to. Â Â Â Â Â The documentary goes through the history and present status of doping in Finnish skiing events as well as the situation in other countries. Â Â Â Â Â Director Halonen has had access to sources such as the investigative material from a large doping trial in Italy, where the use of blood doping appeared to be very common. Â Â Â Â Â Interviews with Italian skiers, coaches, and officials also raise the role of Finnish coaches in Italian cross-country skiing in the 1980s and 1990s. Â Â Â Â Â The International Olympic Committee banned blood tanking in 1985. Â Â Â Â Â Vilho Sadeharju, a Finn, coached the Italian cross-country skiing team in the early 1980s and Jarmo Punkkinen, also a Finn, served as coach from 1984 to 1990. Â Â Â Â Â The film asserts that various sources say that when Punkkinen was the head coach, skiers were pressured to use blood tanking if they wanted to make the national team. Â Â Â Â Â The premiere of Sinivalkoinen valhe will be on October 5th. A press screening took place in Lahti on Monday.