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21 Feb, 2020 13:01

‘They may have paid the driver’: Norwegian skiers accuse Russian competitor of winning race with help of snowmobile

‘They may have paid the driver’: Norwegian skiers accuse Russian competitor of winning race with help of snowmobile

Norwegian cross-country skiing stars Simen Hegstad Krüger and Emil Iversen have accused Russian rival Alexander Bolshunov of unfair play, claiming he won the latest marathon race at Ski Tour 2020 with the help of a snowmobile.

The Norwegians who failed to win Thursday’s race suggested that Bolshunov could have benefitted from the position of the snowmobile which followed him throughout the race protecting him from side wind.

READ MORE: Russian ski star Alexander Bolshunov becomes new face of Norwegian winter sports equipment giant Swix

They also stressed that the vehicle which was capturing images of the leader created less air resistance for Bolshunov helping him to finish first in the men’s 34km (21.1 miles) mass start race, held in stormy weather conditions.

The scooter was sometimes a little too close to Bolshunov. There was an awful side wind. If the scooter is right on the side then it is not good,said Krüger.

It is important that those who ride the scooter know where the wind comes from and know that the scooter takes a lot of wind, more than a skier. The scooter driver must know where to ride, without affecting the result,” he added.

Iversen who finished third in the race right behind Bolshunov and Johannes Hosflot Klaebo suggested that the Russian team could have bribed the driver to ensure dominance of their skier.

The Russians may have paid the scooter driver. They believe we have paid Simen Hegstad Krüger to trap Bolshunov. So, now I suspect that Russia has bought and paid the scooter driver,” Iversen said.

Bolshunov, who is now the main favourite to claim an overall victory at Ski Tour 2020, won the race despite breaking his ski pole after a fall on a ski track. His teammate Denis Spitsov gave him his own pole, helping Bolshunov to celebrate a well-deserved win.

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I don’t remember when I followed the scooter,” Bolshunov said in response to accusations from Norwegian skiers. “There was a lot of wind and poor visibility. I had nothing to do with the scooter and don’t think I had any benefit from it.”