U.S. Biathletes will boycott an international competition in Russia next month over the continuing doping controversy in that country, according to a statement released Saturday morning by the national governing body.
Russia as a country is banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics for doping violations. Athletes from that country are competing as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” The Russian flag and national anthem has been banned.
At least two Russian athletes have been caught up in doping issues here. The mixed doubles curling team was forced to give up its bronze medal after a positive test. And a female bobsledder has failed a drug test according to international media reports, but WADA has made no formal announcement of sanctions.
Asked in a briefing on Saturday about a positive doping test for a Russian bobsledder, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said, “I’ve seen the reports you’ve seen. You’ll have to check with the Russians first.”.
The biathlon event the U.S. Will boycott is the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup Biathlon Final in Tyumen, March 19-26, according to the release.
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“The IBU’s recent decision to move forward with the World Cup Final in Tyumen, Russia is completely unacceptable. In support of clean sport and our own physical safety, we cannot in good conscience participate,” the statement said. “The message from the athletes was clear. With Russia still being out of compliance with the WADA Code, with threats of physical harm to athletes who travel to Russia, with six athletes already sanctioned by IBU and the IOC from the 2014 Olympic season and another case awaiting a decision, holding the World Cup Final in Russia now sends an outrageous message of anti-doping indifference to the world.
“We fully support the right of clean Russian athletes to compete and share the opinion that Russia should be eligible to host IBU World Cups in the future; but only after they have shown a meaningful commitment to rectifying the doping culture which has been shown to exist there.”.
The release was sent by Max Cobb, President & CEO, U.S. Biathlon Association.
An announcement is expected Sunday morning from the IOC on whether Russian athletes will be allowed to carry their country’s flag in the closing ceremony that night.