When heroes lie movie poster


Ministry of social affairs & health offers promise in response to Arto Halonen’s open letter

Press release 10.10.2012

Ministry of social affairs & health offers promise in response to Arto Halonen’s open letter

The Minister of Social Affairs & Health, Paula Risikko, promises to organize a discussion between the Finnish Medicines Agency and the police in order to develop cooperation in the investigation of sport doping.

Finland's Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has responded to Arto Halonen’s open letter, in which Halonen proposes modification and tightening of the sport-doping control system, as the current system offers pharmaceutical companies the opportunity to cover up drug crimes. The problem became apparent to Halonen while doing the background research for his documentary feature film When Heroes Lie. As part of the film's larger investigation of doping in the ski world, Halonen examined the interactions among the pharmaceutical company Orion, the Finnish Ski Association and the Finnish Medicines Agency in regard to medical monitoring and investigation practices related to a suspected crime.

Paula Risikko, the Minister of Social Affairs & Health, states in her response: "I've asked to organize a discussion between the Finnish Medicines Agency and the police in order to develop their co-operation. The discussion will be to review the existing mechanisms for cooperation and possible needs for improvement when cooperating with drug control detected in the suspected criminal conduct and seeking a reference to any of the cases in which illegal activity is potentially criminally out of date."

Halonen thanks Risikko for her action. He states: "The Finnish Medicines Agency's earlier investigation was based solely on the suspect's own statements, which should not sufficient for the criminal investigation of a suspect -- whether there was cooperation with the police or not. It is important to define clear instructions for similar situations in the future so that the power of ethical codes won’t slip away for authorities as to pharmaceutical laboratories. For Fimea to meet with the police and develop cooperation is a good start on operating procedures to improve efficiency in this area."

Orion manufactured and supplied a pharmaceutical 10 % Ringsteril solution illegally for the Ski Federation in the period 1996-1998. When the Finnish Medicines Agency (under its earlier title as the National Agency for Medicine) received a tip about the matter in 2001, it asked for a report on this from Orion. Based on the study the Agency determined that a drug crime had been committed but that the statute of limitations had already passed. The Agency did not conduct any further investigative work. It did not hear from any other party than Orion, did not examine whether other drugs were delivered to the Ski Association, and did not investigate whether infusion or any other drug was delivered to underage persons, in which case the statute of limitations might have been longer. The Agency did not cooperate with the police. The Ministry of Social Affairs & Health, which monitors Fimea, has stated that Fimea has the right to decide how the investigation is progressing, as long as the drug offense is outside the statute of limitations.

Once the Finnish Medicines Agency became aware of the material in the film When Heroes Lie, the Agency requested further information from Orion about the drug delivery for Ski Federation use. Fimea's request has not produced any further information as to irregular pharmaceutical supply.

When Heroes Lie is a documentary feature film that delves into the sport of cross-country skiing through the prevailing double-standards of the doping culture. The film opened in theaters on 5th of October 2012. Halonen, the film's director, has worked with scriptwriters Jouni K. Kemppainen and Kevin Frazier.

Additional information:

Arto Halonen / Art Films production AFP Ltd.
Merimiehenkatu 10
00150 Helsinki, Finland
Tel. +358 9 4159 3640
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Reference: Related to When Heroes Lies background material: Orion-reportage