IBSF moves World Championships from Sochi

The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) has withdrawn its 2017 World Championships from Sochi amid the threat of a boycott in response to the doping scandal engulfing Russian sport.

The announcement was made following last week’s publication of the second part of the McLaren Report into systematic, state-sponsored doping in Russia. Latvia had already pulled out of competing at the event, while South Korea and the US were also considering a boycott, according to the Reuters news agency.

A replacement host will be announced by the IBSF in the coming days, while Germany has stated that it would be prepared to stage the championships. It is not clear whether the event will retain its February 13-26 schedule.

The IBSF said that the decision to remove the event from Sochi was made to allow the championships to focus on sport rather than accusations and speculation.

“The IBSF Executive Committee felt that during this difficult time it is prudent not to organise such an event in Russia,” the governing body said. “The IBSF asks all members and athletes for fair play and respect which also includes the assumption of innocence for any athlete, regardless of national affiliation, until proven guilty.”

Vitaly Smirnov, the head of Russia's anti-doping commission, told the R-Sport news agency that there could be other events that are moved from the country.

Russia is due to host the eighth stage of the Biathlon World Cup in Tyumen from March 7-12, the International Skating Union World Cup Speed Skating final in Chelyabinsk from March 10-12 and the cross-country World Cup final in Tyumen from March 16-19.