IBU retains biathlon events scheduled for Russia

The International Biathlon Union (IBU) has opted to maintain hosting rights awarded to Russia for events staged this year.

The decision was announced following a meeting of the IBU Executive Board. The IBU said that with investigations still ongoing into the Russian doping scandal its World Cup Final will remain in Tyumen on March 20-25, along with two second tier IBU Cup events in Uvat (March 9-11) and Khanty-Mansiysk (March 13-17).

The IBU cited two main reasons for its decision. Firstly, that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had expressed no concerns that competitions awarded to Russia before the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) was officially declared non-compliant were to be organised and conducted according to the initial plans and schedules. The IBU said its schedule for the 2017-18 season was decided prior to Rusada’s non-compliance.

Secondly, that all members of the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations (AIOWF) agreed at a conference call on December 9 that all competitions in Russia will be conducted as planned for the ongoing season, unless new “important and legally backed” evidence is brought forward.

After the publication of the second McLaren Report into the scandal in December 2016, the IBU, following guidelines from the AIOWF, scheduled no events in Russia in 2016-17. In February 2017, the IBU Congress voted to strengthen the sanctions and the Executive Board was given the power to put additional sanctions into effect for the 2017-18 season. Tyumen was also stripped of its hosting rights to the 2021 World Championships.

In November, the IBU elected not to award any World Cup events to Russia for the 2018-19 season, while the Russian Biathlon Union was relegated to provisional membership in December.