Johannes Høsflot Klæbo is happy with the news, but will not fully stretch his arms in the air yet.
– There were a number of misunderstandings related to the old regulations. Hopefully, it will now be easier for everyone involved to understand. The goal has been to make them easy to understand for both active judges and lawyers. Therefore, we have clarified the old rules.
This is what FIS cross country committee leader Vegard Ulvang tells Adresseavisen.
After a series of controversial incidents in recent years, the FIS decided to review the regulations for obstruction and passage of competitors.
The hardest day of his career
Among the incidents was the five-mile World Cup in Oberstdorf, where Johannes Høsflot Klæbo was disqualified after being in contact with Alexandr Bolshunov in the race. The Russian broke pole and finished third. Klæbo was the first to cross the finish line, but was deprived of the gold medal. Emil Iversen, who asked beyond Bolshunov, received the gold.
Norway filed a counter-protest after disqualification, but it was rejected. Norway later announced that it would appeal the case, but at the request of Klæbo himself, they chose to withdraw the appeal.
Subsequently, the disqualification and the regulations were discussed.
Klæbo says no to this
Therefore, Klæbo was disqualified.
FIS race director Pierre Mignerey told Adresseavisen that there were two things to consider:
First, if Bolshunov had the right to choose the line he chose, then if Klæbo was responsible for breaking the Russian’s bar.
According to the jury, the short answer to both questions was “yes.”
– We analyzed the television images from different angles and quickly came to the conclusion that Bolshunov had the right to do what he did. He led and could choose the line he wanted, Mignerey told reporters in Oberstdorf.
FIS has now taken action:
The new clarification makes it clear that the runner in front can choose his preferred line, but must take into account the competitors around him. If two practitioners walk side by side, they have shared responsibilities to avoid obstructing each other.
These clarifications will be approved by the FIS Council and the FIS Congress, but will already be applied in the next ski season.
Ulvang says they have received good help from law professor Trond Solvang at the University of Oslo. Additionally, athletes and coaches from various nations have provided input, as well as FIS members and staff. Former national team coach Tor Arne Hetland has also played a central role in the job, says Ulvang.
– We have spent a lot on this.
Among the practitioners who have participated in the meetings are Klæbo:
– Has been involved in several meetings.
This is how Klæbo reacts to the news
Klæbo reacts to the new FIS clarifications on the regulations as follows:
– I am glad that FIS has addressed this issue. Fair play is important in all sports, but we will have to wait to stretch our arms until the clarifications have been approved by the FIS Council and the FIS Congress.
When asked if he would have withdrawn the appeal if the new clarifications were applied during the World Cup in Oberstdorf, the ski star answers this:
– Appeal or no appeal: this case is resolved. Now I look ahead. Not backwards.
– I’d like to have the gold within five miles. My big dream was to be as good as the best skier in the world, Petter Northug, by winning the World Cup gold in sprint and five miles. I was not successful at Oberstdorf, so we will see if there are any new opportunities to be successful at that feat.
– It will not be less demanding
Although FIS has now adopted new clarifications, Ulvang predicts longer and more difficult discussions in the years to come.
– There is no final decision in such situations. The jury still has to weigh different rules against each other: the first man has the right to choose his preferred line, but he is not allowed to hinder the competitors. It will be no less demanding to be a judge in these cases now. There are many considerations to take into account, he says.
Even with the new clarifications, Ulvang will not answer yes or no to the question whether Klæbo would have been disqualified if they were valid during the WC in Oberstdorf:
– Now I’m not trying to be a superior judge. I think that now the opinions would also have been divided.
But the FIS leader believes that active practitioners will be extremely careful with the new clarifications implemented:
– Maybe athletes think a little differently, as it becomes clearer that the first person to enter the race does not have an unlimited right to do what they want, as many probably thought with the old rules. Even if the athlete in front is allowed to choose the line, he cannot stop the competitors. I think active practitioners will be a little more careful in defending their rights.