Johann Mühlegg

Johann Mühlegg bigraphy, stories - Spanish cross country skier

Johann Mühlegg : biography

8 November 1970 –

Johann Mühlegg (born 8 November 1970 in Ostallgäu, Germany) is a former Spanish top level cross-country skier who competed in international competitions first representing Germany and then Spain, after becoming a Spanish citizen in 1999. He was excluded and disqualified from the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City for doping.

Early career

Mühlegg participated for Germany in the 1992, 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics, even though he began having trouble with the Germany’s ski federation in 1993. From the beginning, Mühlegg singled himself out, at one point accusing German head coach Georg Zipfel for "damaging him spiritually" (the so-called Spiritistenaffäre). He was thrown off the team in 1995, but was reinstated later. But from that moment on, the ever eccentric Mühlegg insisted on taking a flask of holy water with him at all times, and trusting only his Portuguese cleaning woman/chaperone Justina Agostino. In the end, Mühlegg was branded as a team cancer and was thrown out.


  1. Traces of darbepoetin were found in a random urine test on 21 February. Before the 50 km race on 23 February, a random test for hemoglobin levels found Mühlegg above the limit; a second test five minutes later was below the limit, and he was allowed to compete. At the end of the race he came on extremely strong (and, as was later shown, unnaturally strong) to beat Mikhail Ivanov of Russia by 14.9 seconds.

Doping controversy

Following the darbepoetin scandal, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) initially let Mühlegg keep his gold medals from the first two races, but in December 2003 a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) found that these medals should also be withdrawn. The CAS remitted this case as well as similar ones involving Olga Danilova and Larisa Lazutina (both from Russia) to the IOC Executive Board, which confirmed the rulings in February 2004. Nevertheless, publications appearing in professional literature since then indicate that the detection of prohibited substances at the 2002 Olympics may have been false as a result of less-than-perfect detection methodology, and the Olympic champions could therefore wrongly suffer IOC sanctions.

Competing for Spain

After being ejected from the national team after the 1998 Nagano Games, his good relations with members of the Spanish cross-country skiing team, in particular Juan Jesús Gutiérrez Cuevas and Haritz Zunzunegui, opened the door for Mühlegg to obtain a Spanish citizenship.

In late 1999, competing for Spain, he won a World Cup race for the first time. At the 2001 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Lahti, he won two medals with a silver in the 10 km + 10 km combined pursuit (stepping up when the original medalist Jari Isometsä was disqualified for hemohes use), and a gold in the 50 km freestyle race.

In the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Mühlegg won gold medals in the 30 km freestyle and the 10 km + 10 km pursuit races, the successes gaining him congratulations from King Juan Carlos of Spain.

Mühlegg finished first in the 50 km classical race held on the final Saturday of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games on 23 February 2002 but was disqualified from that race and was expelled from the Games the next day, after testing positive for darbepoetin¹ (a medicine which boosts red blood cell count; the substance was not banned at the time since it had only recently been developed).