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American Athletes Threaten Boycott of IBSF World Championships if Event Held in Sochi

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American athletes could reportedly boycott the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World Championships in February should the event remain in Sochi. Photo: JIM URQUHART/USA TODAY SPORTS/REUTERS

American athletes could reportedly boycott the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World Championships in February should the event remain in Sochi.

According to the New York Times, members of US Bobsled and Skeleton’s Athlete Advisory Committee voted unanimously to pull out of the event should the Championships not be moved out of the Russian city.

The current members of the Committee are Matt Antoine, Veronica Day, Elana Meyers Taylor, Nic Taylor and Kyle Tress.

Their potential boycott follows allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russia, outlined in the first report produced by Richard McLaren.

The Canadian lawyer allegedly uncovered a doping system endorsed by the Government at a number of major international competitions, including the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi.

Concerns over doping controls and personal safety have reportedly been cited as key reasons for a potential boycott.

Tress claimed there was strong support to pull out of the Championships, with the skeleton athlete expressing his hope strong action will be taken by sporting bodies when the second part of the McClaren report is released in London on Friday.

“This has been passed down the line from the very highest level of sport and now it’s fallen into the lap of athletes,” Tress told the New York Times.

“There’s tremendous support to skip this event, and I think it’s the right decision.

“Perhaps after the report comes out, they’ll listen.

“There’s politics and money and sponsors involved, but this is an opportunity to come out in favor of clean sport.

“And they’ve missed that opportunity.”

Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold called on the IBSF to move the World Championships in October, with the women’s skeleton Olympic champion also refusing to rule out boycotting the event, scheduled to take place from February 13 to 26.

Her stance was backed by Belgium’s Kim Meylemans.

Russian Bobsleigh Federation (RBF) President Alexander Zubkov, who was one of the athletes reportedly implicated at Sochi 2014, dismissed suggestions the event should be moved last month.

The two-time Olympic champion, part of the victorious two and four-man crews on home ice at Sochi 2014, admitted the athletes had the right to an opinion but waved off claims that the World Championships could be moved.

“The IBSF does not want to further comment on the personal opinion of the athlete stated in the New York Times,” the IBSF told insidethegames.

“We shall wait for the second report of McLaren to be published before any statement will be given.”

It appears unlikely the IBSF will strip Sochi of the event, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) backtracked on recommendations they initially made after the McLaren Report was published.

They told Winter International Federations to “freeze preparations” for major events in Russia and asked them to “actively seek alternative organizers” before claiming this only applied to future bid processes and not current candidacies from Russia or competitions which they had already been awarded.

The IBSF chose Sochi as the host of the 2017 World Championships in June 2013.

By Michael Pavitt

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz

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