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Russia Loses Biathlon And Speed Skating Events

Russia has lost hosting rights of biathlon and speed skating events it was expected to host this winter following allegations the country ran a vast state-sponsored doping scheme.

The final report of World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren prompted many Western athletes to campaign for boycotts in several winter sports in the country after 12 medalists from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics were implicated.

The International Biathlon Union said it is investigating 29 other Russian biathletes, based on the evidence provided by McLaren, who are currently free to continue competing. It also announced it has provisionally suspended two Russian athletes, who are the subject of doping cases from Sochi now opened by the International Olympic Committee. The governing body said in a statement after an executive board meeting in Munich that a decision whether or not a charge should be filed to the IBU doping panel will be made in cooperation with legal experts and the World Anti-Doping Agency that has offered to assist IBU.

Biathlon officials of Russia voluntarily gave up their rights to host a World Cup round at Tyumen in March and the world junior championships in Ostrov, which was due to start late February. The Russian Biathlon Union said it was "impossible" to hold the events in the circumstances. This move was welcomed by IBU President Anders Besseberg. The IBU President said this is a first important step by the Russian Biathlon Union to show to the IBU and to the world of sport that the current situation is taken very seriously. In a statement, Besseberg said this will now allow the international biathlon family to focus on biathlon during these events.

In a statement, the IBU said the McLaren report showed severe problems in Russian sport and its anti-doping control system. It further reads the IBU takes all available information very seriously and added it is now on us to find out in detail the scale of the problem in Russian biathlon.

The IBU, however, did not address the 2021 world championships in 2021 that would be hosted by Russia. In another development, Norway’s chief biathlon official said the IBU Congress will consider at its next session whether the 2021 World Biathlon Championships should be relocated from east Siberia’s Tyumen. President of the Norwegian Biathlon Federation Erlend Slokvik said he thinks that it will be wrong to hold the world championships in Russia and added this question will be discussed during the next congress.

Russia had previously lost the right to host the World championships in bobsled and skeleton due in Sochi in February in the fallout from McLaren's final report.

The International Skating Union said it was stripping the Russian city of Chelyabinsk of the final round of the World Cup this season due to McLaren report. It remarked the focus of the event would not be on the sport but rather accusations and controversies. The ISU further added other concerns included a substantial amount of critical evidence of doping in Russia and the uncertainty relating to the attendance of the athletes.

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Albert Wolfgang
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