Ex-U.S. Ski Teamer Kitt: Bode Miller's not alone in doping frustration


Ex-U.S. Ski Teamer Kitt: Bode Miller’s not alone in doping frustrationFormer U.S. Ski Team star AJ Kitt says he doesn’t agree with Bode Miller’s arguments about legalizing doping in sports, but he recognizes a note of frustration in Miller’s controversial remarks and sympathizes with the skier. Kitt also says ‘there’s no question’ that doping exists in ski racing.

‘If what he said came out of frustration, then I understand it’ Kitt said in a recent telephone interview. ‘In this perspective of frustration, he’s not alone. I think that a lot of athletes share it. … But if doping was legal, my personal ethics wouldn’t allow me to participate, and I’m sure that goes for Bode too.’

Kitt’s complicated feelings reflect the soul-searching that Miller’s words have set off within the alpine ski racing community, which has been more or less spared the drug scandals afflicting other sports.

‘I witnessed it on a somewhat direct level’ Kitt said. ‘I never saw someone stick a needle in their arms, because I would have said something, of course, but if you talk to 10 people on an anonymous level, they’ll all agree on who they think is doping. Not the individuals necessarily, but the teams.’

Kitt said a level playing field should be the goal. ‘That’s the perfect world that everybody wants, but it’s pretty impossible to police it’ he said.

Kitt was the top American downhiller of his era, leading the way for the success of his teammates Tommy Moe and Kyle Rasmussen. In 1991, he was second in the Hahnenkamm downhill. Prior to the Olympic Winter Games in Albertville in 1992, Kitt was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and in 1993 he won the Val d’Isere downhill. He retired in 1998, and now lives in Oregon, where he and his wife recently became the parents of triplets.

These days, Kitt follows the sport by checking the Internet, where he ran into Miller’s controversial statements about doping. Miller’s candid attacks on anti-doping programs have inspired backlash, nervousness and defense. Kitt’s feelings fall into another category.

‘If you look at Bode’s comments on the surface, you think, ‘What an idiot,’ ‘ Kitt said. ‘But I kind of sympathize. … The best performance-enhancing drugs are years ahead. The frustration is that if you’re not a part of the doping, then you are not on the same level. You are starting with one strike against you, compared to the guys who have those new drugs and are willing to participate.’

Kitt remains friends with Daron Rahlves. He said he greatly admires Rahlves’s results, professionalism and work ethic. ‘He’ll be one of the ambassadors to the sport’ Kitt said, ‘and he’ll be respected forever in the sport of ski racing.’

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