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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Doping case dismissed, career ruined

Doping allegations against Petar Vukicevic, coach and father of Norwegian athletes Christina and Vladimir Vukicevic, were dismissed this week by the state anti-doping agency Antidoping Norge. Norway’s national athletics association (Norges Friidrettsforbund, NFIF) and sports club Vidar nonetheless dumped him from their staffs, leaving him unemployed and with a ruined name. His daughter also ditched her own father as her coach on Wednesday.

Track and field coach Petar Vukicevic is fending off a doping drama that's being linked to a family feud. PHOTO: Norges Friidrettsforbund
Track and field coach Petar Vukicevic has seen his career tarnished by doping allegations. PHOTO: Norges Friidrettsforbund

The saga, broadly covered in Norwegian media, evolved from a family dispute after Vukicevic’s ex-wife Turid Syftestad set off the doping scandal by turning over e-mail correspondence to Antidoping Norge that Vukicevic and Serbian coach and doctor Srdjan Djordjevic allegedly exchanged between 2001 and 2003. The e-mails involved information about the use and effects of various illegal substances. Their two children publicly sided with their father and have no contact with their mother.

Antidoping Norge dismissed the case against Vukicevic because the evidence dated too far back in time. However, although Vukicevic has claimed his ex-wife tampered with the e-mails, Antidoping Norge said it found no evidence to suggest they were false, leaving the former coach without a sentence but with his reputation severely tarnished.

The national athletics association followed up by saying that although the case was dismissed, the e-mails that were found to be real were not “compatible with the association’s beliefs,” and that they therefore decided to end their relationship with Vukicevic.

The e-mail exchange occurred during the two years leading up to Vukicevic’s divorce. Syftestad, a data expert who shared an e-mail account with Vukicevic at the time the e-mails were written, has denied the manipulation charges.

The news broke on Wednesday that Vukicevic’s daughter Christina, although still supportive of her father, had decided to continue to train without him. “She feels the need to try something new,” sports manager at the athletics association NFIF, Ronny Nilsen, told VG Nett. “She wants to control her own training more,” he said about Christina, 25, who competes as a hurdler. Her brother Vladimir will continue training with his dad.

No trust 
Sports clubs are independent and free to decide how they want to handle the case, but the head of Vidar, Oskar Petter Jensrud, said this week that they will not rehire Vukicevic.

“As long as Petar does not have the necessary trust, we do not wish to hire him as a coach,” Jensrud told newspaper Dagbladet. Vukicevic can still coach his two children, though, both of whom are still part of the club. According to Aftenposten, Vukicevic coached 13 athletes from the club last year.

Vukicevic himself remains firm that his ex-wife manipulated the e-mails and blames her for not keeping the old computer where the emails were stored. “If I was going to attack someone for emails they allegedly wrote and produce good evidence for this, I wouldn’t destroy the computer with the emails on it,” he told Aftenposten on Wednesday. His ex-wife responded and said she printed the e-mails and had no reason to keep a 15-year-old computer.

“I feel no triumph over the decision from Antidoping Norge,” Syftestad told Aftenposten. “The intention has not been revenge, just to get the truth out.”

Views and News from Norway/Aasa Christine Stoltz

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