Russia could lose 2021 biathlon worlds because of doping
VIENNA (AP) A city in Siberia will be stripped of hosting the 2021 world biathlon championships if Russians in the sport fail doping retests of samples taken at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
International Biathlon Union President Anders Besseberg told The Associated Press on Wednesday ''it's possible without problem'' to reallocate the hosting rights from the city of Tyumen if more Russian doping infringements surface following the revelation of an alleged state-backed doping plot at the Sochi Games.
''WADA and IOC have commissions working on this,'' Besseberg said. ''If they should come up with things that it will be wrong, or as a kind of punishment, that you cannot organize big events in Russia, then there is absolutely no problem for us. We will have a new congress in 2018.''
The IBU Congress in Chisinau, Moldova, last weekend elected Tyumen to host the competition despite a recent IOC recommendation to all winter sports federations to ''freeze their preparations for major events in Russia'' and find host cities in other countries.
According to Besseberg, the IOC request from July didn't apply to the 2021 biathlon worlds because its host bidding process had already started.
Besseberg said the IBU and other winter sports federations received ''a very clear statement'' by the International Olympic Committee at a meeting during the Rio de Janeiro Games last month that ''all competitions already granted to Russia should run normally, and applications (to host an event) that were in process shall also run the normal way. This was the case for us.''
Therefore, two IBU events in Russia in the 2016-17 season – the junior world championships in Ostrov in February and a World Cup event in Tyumen the following month – will go ahead as planned. Also in other winter sports, no major events have been moved from Russia so far.
In a statement to the AP, the IOC said it ''is aware of the decision of the IBU Congress and will continue its discussions with the International Olympic Winter Sports Federations about the practical implementation of the recommendation of the IOC EB.''
The IOC announced earlier its recommendation was an interim order through 2016 which its board will review in December.
Situated 2,500 kilometers east of Moscow, Tyumen won Sunday's election by getting an absolute majority in the first round of voting, beating rival bids from Pokljuka in Slovenia and Nove Mesto in the Czech Republic.
Officials from several national biathlon federations, including those of the United States, Canada and Norway, publicly criticized the choice for a Russian venue as it would send a wrong signal in the awake of the World Anti-Doping Agency inquiry report on the state-backed doping plot.
''When it's about granting the rights for the world championships, it's the sole responsibility of the delegates from the different national federations,'' Besseberg said, adding that ''none of the delegates asked questions or had any remarks'' during the congress when they were informed by him on the updated IOC recommendation.
''The voting on the candidates run in the absolutely normal way,'' Besseberg said.
AP Sports Writer Stephen Wilson in London contributed to this report.