In the shadow of the athletes
They are the busy little bees in the background: 1400 volunteers ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible at the Nordic World Ski Championships.
Very close to the athletes at the Nordic World Ski Championships is IFA President Jörn Verleger. As anti-doping chaperone he becomes the shadow of the cross-country skiers as soon as they cross the finish line. The French word translates as supervisor, or as Verleger puts it, “I am one of the nearby 40 shadow.”
The 48-year-old is on duty as a volunteer in the cross-country stadium during the first week of the World Championships and accompanies the athletes until the doping control. “In the process, I first inform the athlete about the upcoming control and do not let him out of my sight afterwards,” says Verleger. This is to guarantee that the “chosen ones” – the top three finishers and other athletes drawn by lot – go for a doping test without delay. “We all want the sport to stay clean,” he says. The fight against doping is not just about the tests, he says; prevention and education are at the forefront of the volunteer’s mind. “These aspects actually count for me even more than the pure controls,” says the 48-year-old, who has taken holiday for his volunteer job. For Verleger, who was already on duty at the last Nordic World Ski Championships in Oberstdorf in 2005, there is no better task.
Fistball and winter sports – for Verleger this is not a contradiction. “Sport defines my life,” says Verleger. With a view to the two IFA Fistball World Championships coming up this year in Austria and Switzerland, the hygiene concept of the World Ski Championships is also interesting to him.
“There’s always a lot you can learn and adapt from these kinds of major events,” says Verleger. In general, he does not find the circumstances burdensome. “Tests and the procedure are part of the new normal,” Verleger says. “At the end of the day, I’m glad the event is happening at all.”
Articel based on a report from Tobias Giegerich of the Allgäuer Zeitung.
Photo credit: Ralf Lienert, Allgäuer Zeitung