Athletics: Russia scraps plans to host biathlon World Cup meeting

Martin Fourcade (left) of France is on his way to win the men's 12.5km Pursuit race of the Biathlon World Cup in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, on Dec 17, 2016.
Martin Fourcade (left) of France is on his way to win the men's 12.5km Pursuit race of the Biathlon World Cup in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, on Dec 17, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

(REUTERS) - Russia has pulled out of hosting a biathlon World Cup meeting in March amid growing concern at the extent of the country's doping programme, highlighted in the McLaren report.

The International Biathlon Union (IBU) said on Thursday (Dec 22) that the Russian Biathlon Union (RBU) had "given back to the IBU" the event, which had been due to take place in Tyumen, and the junior world championships, earmarked for Ostrov.

"This is a first important step by the Russian Biathlon Union to show to the IBU and to the world of sport that the current situation is taken very seriously," IBU President Anders Besseberg said in a statement following an extraordinary meeting of the organisation's executive board.

"This will now allow the international biathlon family to focus on biathlon during these events."

The step follows mounting pressure to strip Russia of the event after the McLaren report laid bare the extent to which Russian sport was affected by an "institutional conspiracy" of doping.

The second part of the report, compiled by Canadian sports lawyer Richard McLaren, was published earlier this month and said more than 1,000 Russian athletes in more than 30 sports were involved, including 31 biathletes.

Britain had said on Wednesday that it planned to boycott the Tyumen event.