Only 49 percent of Norwegians believe that domestic cross-country skiers are completely doping-free according to the latest poll conducted by Ipsos for the Norway’s Dagbladet newspaper
This is a marked decrease of trust since the similar survey was done in 2014 by Ipsos MMI/ Dagbladet when 65 percent say that doping in domestic cross country skiing occurs “vary rarely or never”.
There is no big mystery as to why the public attitude in the world’s most skiing country gone decidedly more sour – in the wake of asthma case against Martin Johnsrud Sundby and the doping case against Therese Johaug it would be expected.
Just a quick reminder – neither admitted to taking certain medications to enhance performance, both claimed “innocence of intent” – whether the public believed them or not is a different matter entirely.
The younger Norwegians appear to be more negative ( or just cynical – you decide) – 39 percent of young adults believe that several of homebred cross-country runners have deliberately used illegal performance-enhancing substances ( out of total of 31 percent who think so). In other words, the older generation has more trust in skiers’ fair-play.
Dagbladet’s verdict on the new findings is rather bleak: “So far, there has not been any decline either in TV audiences, sponsorship or participation figures for the Norwegian cross country. The numbers were still as high, participation rare is great at all places with snow and the sport’s many sponsors satisfied and faithful….However, a broken trust often relies on specific events, it often serves as a trigger for spreading of the negative perception…
That’s where we at the Daily Skier disagree.
A woman at the center of the only proven doping case, Therese Johaug is still wildly popular in her homeland – another poll found that 46% are expecting that Johaug will come back as the world’s best cross-border skier ( to be sure, a majority is putting the blame for the clostebol episode on the Olympic champion herself)
Norwegians’ generally warm feelings towards Therese should have played a decisive role in her sponsors’ behavior – they all stand by Johaug, even if some freezed payments to the star for the period of her suspension.
Johaug-branded collection of active wear by Active Brands ( where Therese is part-owner) appears to be as popular as ever as well.
Conclusion: younger generation, grown on Internet with its markedly more cynical attitude towards pretty much everything, might be more willing to believe in cheating by sportsmen – but it no way means that they would be less enthusiastic at waving the flag once the Olympics come, both literally and through shopping for endorsed products.