Kaisa Varis

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Kaisa Varis
Medal record
Representing  Finland
Women's cross country skiing
World Championships
Bronze medal – third place 2001 Lahti 15 km
Disqualified 2003 Val di Fiemme 4×5 km
Disqualified 2001 Lahti 4×5 km[1]

Kaisa Varis (born 21 September 1975, in Ilomantsi) is a retired Finnish cross country skier and biathlete. Her career has been marred by doping convictions: as a cross country skier, she was involved but not suspended in a doping scandal and in 2003 she was suspended two years for doping use. After her suspension, she returned as a biathlete in 2007, but in 2008 she received a lifetime ban from all International Biathlon Union competitions after another positive doping test. However, her lifetime ban was overturned in March 2009 because the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that the IBU failed to adhere to correct testing procedures; she remains eligible to compete in biathlon.


Cross country skiing[edit]

In cross country skiing, Varis competed from 1995 to 2006. Her biggest success was the win of the bronze medal in the 15 km at the 2001 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, but she is better known for her doping controversies at those championships: Varis was part of the 4×5 km relay that was disqualified when fellow skiers Virpi Kuitunen and Milla Jauho were disqualified for taking hydroxyethyl starch, a banned blood plasma expander. Varis was originally implicated, but later was cleared in this scandal.[citation needed]

Varis's best individual finish at the Winter Olympics was fourth in the 15 km at Salt Lake City in 2002. She also has ten individual career victories at various distances from 1998 to 2002.

Two years after the first doping incident, at the 2003 World Championships in Val di Fiemme, she was suspended for five days before the event's start due to a high hemoglobin count, though was allowed to compete when a second test came back five days later with a lower count. Varis attended the 30 km event, but was later disqualified for taking EPO, an endurance-enhancing drug, and served a two-year suspension as a result.[2][3]

Though she qualified, she did not compete in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, because she was excluded by Finland's Olympic committee.[4]


Varis switched from cross country skiing to biathlon and made her debut in the Biathlon World Cup on March 2, 2007, in Lahti, Finland, by finishing 70th in the 7.5 km sprint race. On November 30, 2007, she finished fifth in the 7.5 km sprint event in Kontiolahti. On January 11, 2008, Varis scored her first victory in a biathlon World Cup race in the 7.5 km sprint event in Ruhpolding, Germany,[4] but it was later voided because of her positive doping test.

On January 24, 2008, it was made public that at least the A sample from a test for prohibited substances on January 6 had again tested positive for EPO. Varis denied any doping.[5] However, on January 31, 2008, the IBU announced, that the B sample confirmed the results; due to this case, the Finnish Biathlon Association did not register Varis for the 2008 World Championships.[6] Despite her first ban coming as a cross-country skier, she was considered a repeat offender by the IBU Executive Board and banned from the sport for life on February 11, 2008.[7][8]

In March 2008 she announced her intention to appeal to overturn the ban.[9] In March 2009 the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that the International Biathlon Union had violated Varis' rights under the World Anti-Doping Agency's code by refusing to allow her or a representative to be present when her backup sample was opened for testing. Because of that, her backup sample could not be used as evidence against her, and her ban was overturned.[10]


  1. ^ Teammates Milla Jauho and Virpi Kuitunen tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and the team was disqualified.
  2. ^ "Finnish skier fails drugs test". BBC NEWS. 2003-03-14. 
  3. ^ Zinser, Lynn; Macur, Juliet (2006-02-11). "Pomp and Unsettling Circumstances Open Games". New York Times. 
  4. ^ a b "Kaisa Varis of Finland, banned twice for doping, wins first biathlon World Cup event". International Herald Tribune. 2008-01-11. 
  5. ^ "Finnish biathlete Kaisa Varis tested positive for doping in World Cup event". International Herald Tribune. 2008-01-24. 
  6. ^ "Establishment of Adverse Analytical Finding in the Case of Ms Kaisa Varis/Finland" (Press release). International Biathlon Union. 2008-01-30. 
  7. ^ "Biathlete Varis faces life ban threat". CNN. 2008-01-31. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Case Kaisa Varis" (Press release). International Biathlon Union. 2008-02-11. 
  9. ^ "Doper Lodges Appeal". Eurosport. 2008-03-18. 
  10. ^ Finnish Biathlete Avoids Lifetime Ban SI.com, March 15, 2009

See also[edit]