Sochi has been stripped of the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World Championships today, with another location “to be determined” in coming days.
In a statement this evening, the IBSF Executive Committee felt that “during this difficult time it is prudent not to organize such an event in Russia.”
The decision was made to “allow athletes and coaches from all nations to participate in a competition that focuses on sport rather than accusations and discussions – whether justified or not.”
They added that the Russian Bobsleigh Federation has put a “great effort” in the preparation of the World Championships, but that the “current climate would make it nearly impossible to appreciate the efforts of the Organizing Committee to host a great event or the quality of the Sanki Sliding Center as one of the best tracks in the world.”
The decision comes after South Korea, Germany and Austria joined Latvia and athletes in Britain and United States in calling for the event to be moved from Sochi in response to evidence of state sponsored Russian doping.
Last week’s McLaren Report produced damning evidence of a doping manipulation scheme in which more than 1,000 Russian athletes are thought to have been implicated at events including the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
Latvia, home of the Olympic silver medalist and world champion Martins Dukurs, had already withdrawn from skeleton events.
Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of the Moscow Laboratory who has since left Russia and worked with McLaren investigators to expose wrongdoing, told the New York Times in May that those whose samples were illegally manipulated at Sochi 2014 included gold medal winning bobsledder Alexander Zubkov and skeleton star Alexander Tretiakov.
Zubkov claimed two and four-man bobsleigh titles at his home Games and has since been elected head of the Russian Bobsleigh Federation.
Tretiakov beat Dukurs to skeleton gold.
Russian figures have already criticized the Latvian boycott.
State Duma deputy Igor Lebedev told Championat.com that “nobody dies in world sport, if Latvia does not come to the World Championships in Sochi.”
“And who can follow Latvia? Lithuania? Estonia? Do not make me laugh,” he added.
The World Championships were due to take place at the Sanki Sliding Centre track used for the Olympics from February 13 to 26.
By Nick Butler
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.