Doping costs Russia rights to hold biathlon and speed-skating events | News | DW | 23.12.2016
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Doping costs Russia rights to hold biathlon and speed-skating events

After bobsled and skeleton Russia has lost biathlon and speed-skating events as world bodies have applied pressure over state doping. Officials said the acclaimed McLaren Report showed 'severe problems in Russian sport.'

Russia's deputy premier and former sports minister Vitali Mutko reacted defiantly to Thursday's twin cancelations, telling the Tass news agency that athletes who boycotted such events should be punished.

The International Biathlon Union had just announced that its Russian affiliate had "given back to the IBU" biathlon's World Cup round due to have taken place at Tyumen in western Siberia in March and the junior world championships that had been planned for Ostrov in late February.

IBU President Anders Besseberg said it was a "first important step" to show to the world of sport that the biathlon community treated the matter "very seriously."

The International Skating Union (ISU) said it was stripping the Russian city of Chelyabrinks of the final round of World Cup speed-skating, scheduled for next March.

It cited a "substantial amount of critical evidence" of doping in Russia.

WADA - Richard McLaren (Reuters/P. Power)

McLaren's probe identified widespread Russian doping

The ISU's executive board said it had taken note of calls to freeze preparations for future major events in Russia, adding that the focus should be on sport not on controversies.

McLaren report findings 

On December 9, the final part of a report compiled by Canadian sports lawyer and World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren said more than 1,000 Russian athletes in more than 30 sports were involved.

Russia subsequently lost the right to host the world bobsled and skeleton ice channel championships at its Sochi Olympic site due to be held on February 9 next year.

Two Russian biathletes suspended

The IBU said Thursday it had provisionally suspended two Russian athletes who had taken part in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, southern Russia.

Russia won four biathlon medals at Sochi. On Thursday, the IBU did not identify the two who were subject to doping investigations.

Boycotts threatened

The German sports news agency SID said threatened boycotts, especially from biathlon federations in Norway, the Czech Republic and Great Britain, had prompted the IBU and the Russian Biathlon Union to backtrack.

In September, the IBU had awarded the hosting rights to Tyumen - just weeks after McLaren's initial report documented state-backed doping in Russia.

Still unclarified is Russia's hosting of the 2021 adult biathlon world championships.

In its statement Thursday, the IBU did not mention that event.

Neither federation announced where the biathlon and skating events would be held.

ipj/jm (SID, Reuters, AP)

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