‘Check my underwear’ if you think I’m cheating, skiing sensation tells journo
Veronika Stepanova has called upon a Scandinavian journalist to check if she has a "motor" in her underwear after it was seemingly suggested that the 4x5km cross country gold medalist had been using a banned lubricant on her skis.
Stepanova, 21, anchored the ROC team home in the final leg of the relay on Sunday to claim the latest gold medal for Russian Olympic Committee in the Chinese capital.
In doing so Stepanova, who has been hailed as a rising star of winter sports in Russia, became the youngest women's Olympic cross-country skiing champion in history and underscored her reputation as being among the breakout stars of the Beijing Games.
But with her growing reputation comes intense scrutiny. Stepanova has found herself in the firing line of media allegations of impropriety, and has hit back a journalist from the Swedish Expressen newspaper after apparently being accused of using C8 fluoro waxes on her skis.
"Commentator of the Swedish Expressen newspaper has well developed sense of smell – he smells C8 fluoro on my skis (and those of German girls too) from far, far away. Even if it's not there," wrote Stepanova in a message which was published to her 80,000+ following on Instagram.
"I have a suggestion, Tomas – why don't you demand to do a check in my undies – in case I hide a motor there, like in you know, [Karlsson-on-the-Roof]. That headline surely would sell better, don't you think?!"
Stepanova's riposte appears to have been aimed at reporter Tomas Pettersson who has been covering several events in China on behalf of Expressen.
She also references the children's book ‘Karlsson-on-the-Roof’ by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren in which the protagonist is equipped with a motorized propeller which helps him to fly.
The use of Perfluorooctanoic Acid, better known to many as ‘C8’, as a ski lubricant has been barred in several jurisdictions, including the European Union, but has so far not been banned in China despite having been found to be hazardous to both the environment and the person who may be using it.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) outlawed fluorinated waxes from all of its events from the start of July last year.
In a separate incident, a Norwegian reporter also came under fire about comments on Russian skier Alexander Bolshunov last week, after it was claimed that Russian athletes shouldn't have been permitted to compete in Beijing.
The claims prompted the president of the Russian Ski Association, Elena Vyalbe, to say she would boycott Norwegian media.
Stepanova has garnered a reputation for being one of the more vocal athletes on the ROC roster in Beijing, and had previously lambasted the New York Times’ depiction of skiers as "women with massive shoulders and thighs".
She also made headlines this month when she implored Russian President Vladimir Putin to watch the finals of her ski event, and joked that she was "offended" that his favorite sports appear to be figure skating and hockey.