Russian doping scandal: Sochi stripped of bobsleigh and skeleton world championships

A sign showing the direction to the anti-doping laboratory of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games at the Olympic Park in Sochi.
A sign showing the direction to the anti-doping laboratory of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games at the Olympic Park in Sochi.PHOTO: AFP

LAUSANNE (AFP) - Sochi was on Tuesday stripped of the right to host of next year's 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 sports governing body read, adding 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.

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 Sochi 2014 Winter and London 2012 Olympics and other global competitions.

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

Latvia's powerful skeleton team had announced they would be boycotting the event in the Black Sea venue, saying on Sunday its giant neighbour had "stolen" the Olympic spirit.

Latvia finished second in the medals table in skeleton at the 2016 world championships.

USA Bobsled & Skeleton chief Darrin Steele had told AFP that most US athletes due to take part in Sochi from Feb 17-26 had voiced concerns about competing in Russia.

The British Olympic Committee had also said they were ready to "support" a boycott.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) responded to McLaren's damning report by announcing it would reanalyse all 254 urine samples taken from Russian athletes at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Russia's track and field team were already banned from international competition for doping and barred from the Rio Olympics in August, but there is now growing pressure for more sanctions.