Called secret – lived in fear for a whole year
In her final active season, Charlotte Kalla carried a secret.
She had made two mistakes in her residency reporting – and was one mistake away from ending her career with a doping conviction.
“The shame was too great to tell”, writes Kalla in his new book.
During the ongoing SM in Piteå 2022, Charlotte Kalla announced that the closing three-mile would be her last race in her career. Crossing the finish line in third, she marked the end of an amazing career that included nine Olympic medals, 13 World Cup medals and an overall victory in the Tour de Ski.
Kalla was hugely praised after his last race.
But the story could have been completely different.
During her last active season, Kalla lived with the threat that a small careless mistake had led to her being suspended for doping offences. Something she was so ashamed of that she kept it a secret from pretty much everyone.
“I had let them down. It was so incredibly embarrassing and I saw in front of me what enormous consequences there would be if there was a third dot”, writes Kalla in his book “Shame on those who give”.
Charlotte Calla’s doping scare – after the miss
As an elite athlete, you have to make yourself available for doping tests and this is done by reporting your stay. The athletes are responsible for having a window every day in which they are available to be tested. If you miss three tests within a 12-month period, you will – with the absolute greatest probability – be suspended for at least one year.
That’s where Charlotte Kalla came close to ending up in the 2021/22 season. It begins on May 4, 2021. Kalla is in Stockholm for a press conference, but has indicated in the reporting that she will be at home. That in itself was not a disaster – but less than a month later it happened again.
She had missed setting the right time when she would be available and a new dot in the protocol was a fact. Terror spread through Kalla’s body.
“The shock was even felt physically. I had never experienced anything like it. An invisible force hit me so hard that I had to bend forward,” she writes.
“I understood just how close I was to razing my entire existence. I saw the headlines in front of me if I was careless one more time: ‘COLD FOR DOPING’. That was how my career would end. Everything I had done would be questioned. The image of my character would crack. The awards and medals in the locker I just passed would be completely worthless.”
Kalla kept the mistakes a secret – tells about the shame
The imminent threat that one more small mistake would lead to a doping suspension weighed heavily on Kalla. Despite that, she kept the information secret from the vast majority. The boyfriend Fredrik Karström found out, her sisters as well. But the coach Magnus Ingesson, the psychologist Thomas Nilsson, the media manager Torbjörn Nordvall and the manager Olle Håkansson – all people with whom Kalla used to be very open – she did not tell anything to.
“I hated having secrets. It was so incredibly embarrassing and I saw in front of me what enormous consequences there would be if there was a third dot”, she writes.
“I was close to destroying everything I had built. I would drag many with me into the race. No one would look at ski star and human being Charlotte Kalla in the same way as before.”
Together with Fredrik Karström, she worked out a system to guarantee that she would never end up in that situation again.
Something she succeeded in – and felt great relief afterwards.
At the 2023 sports gala, she spoke in an interview with Expressen about the relief of escaping the doping hunters, without telling the whole story.
– I have applied not to have to report to the doping hunters. It was the first thing I did after the three-mile in Piteå, which was my last race. Immediately the morning after, I sent in the email asking to stop reporting the stay, she said at the time.