STT doping case: Coaches knew of use of EPO
Mika Myllylä reported on his use to two of the accused
The reopened STT doping case was already entering the final stretch when a surprise revelation was heard on Tuesday.
Former top skier Mika Myllylä, who was heard in court as a defence witness, said that he had told the Finnish Ski Association coaches Pekka Vähäsöyrinki and Antti Leppävuori of his use of EPO.
In the ongoing trial Vähäsöyrinki and Leppävuori are among the accused. They are being charged of aggravated fraud arising out of an earlier libel action against the Finnish News Agency (STT).
The men are accused of having denied in court that they had any knowledge of the use of doping within the Finnish Ski Association and of having demanded compensation in a fraudulent fashion for the distress caused to them by a condemnatory news article by STT.
In court Myllylä was heard via a video link from Kokkola.
Myllylä had promised to appear on court on condition that the audience - in practice the media - was removed from the courtroom for the duration of his appearance. Otherwise he would refuse to testify on medical grounds.
The court recognised the legality of the request and agreed to it.
The trial still remained public: a recorded copy of Myllylä’s testimony was made available immediately afterwards.
Myllylä had already earlier told the police of his use of EPO. Previously, however, it was not known if Vähäsöyrinki and Leppävuori were also aware of Myllylä’s use of a banned substance.
Leppävuori’s attorney Ari Korhonen asked Myllylä directly of the matter.
Myllylä first tried to dodge the question, but the chairman of the court reminded the witness that he was obliged to respond.
After a moment’s pondering Myllylä formulated: “I believe that I have told Vähäsöyrinki and Leppävuori. Who all I told, that I cannot remember. But in my understanding I did tell these two. The coaches may well have been completely aware of my experimenting with EPO."
Myllylä also said that he had acquired the EPO that he used by himself. The experimentation had taken place in the 1990s, before the STT doping article was published in January 1998.
Myllylä refused to answer the question of whether he used EPO also in the 2000s.
He admitted that at the time of the Lahti Nordic World Skiing Championships in 2001 his measured haemoglobin values exceeded 180.
“I have no comment on that”, he stated when asked for the reason for the soaring values.
According to Myllylä, Kari Kajaus, manager of the Vuokatti Sports Institute test centre, never injected him with EPO. Myllylä said that he had remembered wrong.
“I used it entirely by myself. I injected under the skin”, Myllylä confirmed. As late as in March he still named Kajaus as the one to administer the injections.
Instead, Kajaus had given Myllylä an injection of a Russian product from a vial that Myllylä himself had brought. The substance was part of the Ski Association’s immunological programme.
Skier Jari Isometsä, who appeared as the key witness, denied systematically having used doping in the 1990s.
He said he was not aware of anyone else’s use either, or of the coaches having offered forbidden substances.
On Monday Kari-Pekka Kyrö revealed that of the top skiers at least Janne Immonen had revealed to him that he had used EPO.
Immonen, who was called in as a telephone link witness, vehemently denied the allegations.
Kyrö also said that Immonen’s coach Reijo Jylhä had been aware of his protégé’s EPO usage.
Jylhä, who likewise appeared as a witness via a telephone link, also denied Kyrö’s accusations.
The trial will conclude in closing remarks from the prosecution and defence teams later this week, and a verdict has been promised by the end of the month.
The prosecutor has called for suspended prison sentences for all four defendants.
Further links to the background of this long-running story can be found from the article linked below.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Kyrö: Skier Janne Immonen also used EPO (7.6.2011)