Russia stripped of right to host bobsleigh world championships Russia’s lost the right to host the 2017 world bobsleigh championships. Here’s why.

Meduza
13:07, 14 december 2016

Photo: Lionel Bonaventure / AFP / Scanpix / LETA

The International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation (IBSF) has decided against holding the 2017 World Cup in Sochi. This decision was announced shortly after the publication of a report on doping in winter sports in Russia. Meduza provides a synopsis of the immediate repercussions of Russia’s latest doping scandal.

No official reasons have been announced for moving the competition outside of Russia, but the reason is rather obvious – the publication of the second part of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report on doping in Russia. In its decision, the IBSF writes about “hard times” and the need to focus on the sport, rather than on accusations and arguments. This points directly to the doping scandal. Furthermore, the IBSF promised to take swift and decisive action immediately after the publication of the WADA report.

WADA does not focus on any single sport in its reports. The words “bobsleigh” and “skeleton” are not mentioned. Instead, the document talks about the gold medalists of the Olympics in Sochi whose samples were most probably replaced to conceal their doping. The names of the athletes remained hidden, but Meduza believes that the information published in the report points to Russian bobsledder Aleksandr Zubkov and Alexei Voevodu.

The Sochi championship were being threatened by an international boycott. Latvia was the first country to refuse to participate at the sporting event. Latvia’s four-man bobsled team is first in the world. The Americans, the British, and the South Koreans similarly expressed a reluctance to participate. Athletes criticized Russia for its state-sponsored mass doping program at the Sochi Olympic Games, which was also mentioned in the WADA report.

It is unclear where the world championships will now take place. The event is less than two months away and is set to begin on February 13. Germany’s bobsled federation has said that it is ready to urgently host the world cup at home. In 2013, when the host of the 2017 world championships was being selected, Altenberg, Germany lost to Sochi by a small margin (merely 18 votes against 22).

The 2017 FIBT World Championships was to become Russia’s first ever international sporting event dedicated to this category. Russia’s Sanki complex at Krasnaya Polyana is the most advanced bobsled route in the world to this date. The route cost nearly 8 billion rubles (approximately $131,000) to build and the last major competition it saw was Europe’s 2015 luge championship.

Russia has called the decision “extremely politicized.” Presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that IBSF had presented “statements without sufficient justification.”

“We must not … boycott [the championships]. We have go and prove that we are leaders, and win on foreign soil. We all need to support our athletes, who are the victims of a political game that has intervened in sport. It is a shame that athletes from other countries are engaged in such dirty things as boycotts,” said Sochi champion and member of the Russian Duma Alexei Voevod. His colleague in the Duma Dmitry Svishchev suggested that Russia demand compensation for being stripped of the championship.