Sondre Guttormsen mit geöffneter Dopingkontrollflasche (Screenshot)

Doping: Young athletes can reopen bottle after closure

Just an isolated case or a security hole in the anti-doping fight? The doping bottle manufacturer Berlinger may have again a problem with his products. Because: On December 21, 2018, there was an unusual incident during a doping control in Norway.

When the 19-year-old pole vaulter Sondre Guttormsen wanted to seal his blood sample, he was able to first turn off the designated container, model "Bereg-Kit small" – but then open it again. The incident was recorded in a video available to the Norwegian newspaper "Verdens Gang" and SPIEGEL.

Once properly closed, doping control bottles should really only be accessible with special machines. Manual opening would make subsequent replacement of the sample possible. From the video is not clear whether the Norwegian has broken the bottle when closing or opening. Guttormsen said "Verden's gang", he had no visible traces of the vials to discover.

Here you can see the video:

Also not visible is whether he could close it again after opening. If not, the laboratory would immediately notice that the bottle's cap is broken – and an unnoticed exchange of blood would be nearly impossible. A press spokesman from Berlinger told the SPIEGEL that the company knew the video. One sees a clear handling error of the athlete. Guttormsen had closed the bottle with too much force. The laboratory could in this case recognize that the container was defective.

"The checkers were scared"

According to "Verden's Gang", in the video that was supposed to have been taken by his father in Guttormsen's home, one of three attempts by the young athlete to close his blood test. "When I opened the first vial, I thought I made a mistake," Guttormsen told Verden's Gang. "That should not be possible." But then he checked two more and the same thing happened. "The two controllers were startled," Guttormsen said.

Berlinger was already in the criticism before the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang. The ARD had reported back then that it was the in-house doping editorial succeeded, the security vessels open after freezing and reseal, The World Anti-Doping Agency Wada spoke at the time of a "possible integrity problem".

"We do not like this situation"

For the winter games were then as a precaution bottles used by an older generation, After Berlinger had thought about leaving the business, the Wada had looked around for alternatives. Berlinger then decided to to continue production in the coming years and to direct the distribution and further development of anti-doping products to a Swedish foundation. Berlinger had supplied since 2000 all Olympic Games with its products.

The Norwegian Anti-Doping Agency confirmed the incident to SPIEGEL. Guttormsen had tried three times to close his blood doping sample in the vial. Every time he was able to reopen the containers. "We do not like this situation and the case is a high priority for us, which we think is a serious problem with the equipment," said Anders Solheim, head of the Anti-Doping Agency. One brought the problem to Berlinger.

The manufacturer has requested the vials to the Anti-Doping Agency and wants to investigate.

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