Biathletes Boycott World Cup in Tyumen

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Several biathletes Boycott World Cup in Tyumen

USA‘s national biathlete team has decided to boycott the World Cup finals in the Russian city of Tyumen next month. The Czech Republic follows their example. Whether or not Norway will follow suit is not clear, France will however be present.


In a statement issued on Saturday, the American athletes say that the International Biathlete Union (IBU) decision to let Tyumen arrange the World Cup events despite the Russian doping scandals is “completely unacceptable.”

– With regard to clean sports and our own physical safety, we do not have the conscience to participate. Arranging the World Cup Final in Russia now sends an inexcusable message of indifference towards doping, it reads.

Later on Saturday, the Czech Republic’s Biathlete Federation announced that their athletes would not participate in the World Cup final. The Czech star Gabriela Koukalová has earlier voiced for stricter sanctions against cheaters using doping.

Comes at a price

– We do not believe that Russia should arrange international events as the situation is now. We have taken a stand and have to follow that even if it comes at a price, says Czech Republic’s President of Biathletes, Jiri Hamza.

On IBU’s website, it is stated that athletes from 28 nations are enrolled for March 22-25, but biathletes from several nations have expressed skepticism towards participation.

French biathlete Fourcade will participate

– I have asked Martin Fourcade if he is going to Russia and he replied that he must because he tries to win the overall World Cup, says Hamza.

After a board meeting in Pyeongchang last week, IBU confirmed that Tyumen is allowed to arrange the events. Last season, Russia was deprived of previously awarded events as a result of the disclosures of organized cheating involving doping.

According to the US statement, a number of practitioners have voiced against events being held in Russia this season. The IBU has been informed of this from “more than 30 athletes from eight nations, including three gold medal winners from the Pyeongchang Olympic Games”.

Unclear when Russia’s Olympic fate is decided and by whom

The IOC must decide before the Sunday Olympics closing ceremony whether the exclusion of the Russian Olympic Committee should be lifted. There is both excitement and confusion about the process.

Russia was excluded as a nation from the Pyeongchang Olympics, but 168 Russian athletes were invited to participate as “Independent Practitioners from Russia” (OAR). In order for the Russians to respect the strict conditions that were imposed, the IOC dangled a carrot on a stick: Participating under their own flag at the closing ceremony.

Mostly, the Russians have respected and heeded the conditions that were set, but it does not count to their advantage that two of the 168 athletes who were declared “clean” have provided positive doping tests during the Olympics after a going thorough a thorough screening process and have therefore been disqualified from their events.

This led to losing the bronze medals in curling, mixed double, after Alexander Krusjelnitsky tested positive on using meldonium.

Saturday the pilot in Russia’s doubles bob sleigh team for women, Nadezjda Sergejeva, was also disqualified for using doping. These are the only two doping cases in the Olympics that have led to disqualification.

Can’t provide an answer

IOC spokesperson Mark Adams was not able to provide an answer when the news agency AP on Saturday asked him to explain who decides whether the exclusion of Russia’s Olympic Committee should be lifted: The Board in its meeting on Saturday or the IOC in plenary on Sunday?

– The board is going to discuss the matter and on the basis of the decision … what the next step will be, says Adams.

He says that the IOC in plenary will discuss the matter on Sunday, but can not say that it will lead to a vote.

Adams emphasizes that it is not either – or in the question of termination of exclusion.

– Partial termination is also an opportunity that will be discussed, he says.

Bach decides

Many believe that IOC President Thomas Bach himself will make the decision. The board tends to do as he wishes, and the IOC members generally approve the Board’s decisions.

This is the way it is likely to go since Bach’s two strongest critics among the IOC members have left South Korea; Namely the Canadian Richard Pound and Adam Pengilly from Britain.

Pound went home after strongly criticizing the IOC’s decision to allow Russian practitioners to attend even though Russia’s Olympic Committee was banned as a result of the disclosures of systematic state-supported cheating involving doping.

Pengilly was sent home after being in a clash with a security guard.


© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today