Russian anger as Sochi loses world meet

Sochi has been stripped of the right to host next year's bobsleigh and skeleton world championships amid accusations of state-sponsored doping against Russia.
Sochi has been stripped of the right to host next year's bobsleigh and skeleton world championships amid accusations of state-sponsored doping against Russia.PHOTO: NYT

LAUSANNE • Sochi was stripped on Tuesday of the right to host next year's bobsleigh and skeleton world championships amid accusations of state-sponsored doping against Russia, bringing a furious response from Moscow at what it dubbed a baseless "political decision".

The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) had come under pressure to move the event from the 2014 Winter Olympics host city after last week's damning report by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren which implicated more than 1,000 Russian athletes in at least 30 sports in a state-sponsored doping programme.

"The IBSF executive committee felt that during this difficult time it is prudent not to organise such an event in Russia," a statement by the governing body read, adding that a new location would be decided in the coming days.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov reacted immediately, saying Russia "enormously regretted" the decision.

"We're convinced that this was a political decision. It's based on statements without any evidence," Peskov was quoted as saying by the R-Sport agency.

Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov expressed his surprise on the decision. "There is an agreement for the organisation of these world championships that no one has terminated," he told R-Sport.

"We must look very carefully at the (terms of the) agreement signed by our federation with the international federation. We will clarify these issues and make decisions in the future."

The announcement comes four days after the final publication of the McLaren report in which the Canadian lawyer described how Russia "hijacked" sport by involving more than 1,000 athletes in an "institutional conspiracy" to win by mass doping at the 2012 London Olympics, the Sochi 2014 Winter Games and other global competitions.

McLaren, who detailed in a previous report how Russian security services were involved in the scheme, said in a second report for the World Anti-Doping Agency that at least 30 sports were implicated and that salt and instant coffee were used to manipulate Russian samples.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2016, with the headline 'Russian anger as Sochi loses world meet'. Print Edition | Subscribe