S. Korea threatens Sochi boycott over doping scandal
South Korea is the latest nation to threaten to boycott February’s International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World Championships in Sochi in protest at the Russian doping scandal.
The news follows Latvia's confirmation on Monday that it would boycott the event, after the publication on Friday of the second half of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren. The report alleged an "institutional conspiracy to conceal positive drug tests" in Russian sport.
According to McLaren, more than 1,000 Russian athletes are believed to have been linked to wrongdoing at events including the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
The Korea Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (KBSF) said it would not make a final decision until its athletes were back in the country on December 19, but is leaning towards a boycott.
"Our tentative decision is not to attend because as Russia was hosting the championship there were several problems with fairness regarding doping," KBSF Secretary General Sung Youn-teak told Reuters.
"Also, other countries are saying that they won't attend. Especially for skeleton, Latvia and some other countries are our competitors but they have said they will not attend.
"So, we think that there is no significant meaning for us to win medals without our competitors present."
With South Korea set to host the next Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in 2018, hopes are high that the country can win medals on home soil.
Won Yun-jong and Seo Young-woo are the reigning World Cup champions in the men's two-man bobsleigh and Sung believes traveling to Sochi could place them and other athletes at risk.
"Our goal is the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018, so we don't see participating this time as crucial considering the circumstances," Sung added.
Athletes from the United States and Great Britain have already said they are considering withdrawing from the championships in protest at the scandal.
The former director of the Moscow Laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, told the New York Times in May that numerous samples were manipulated at Sochi 2014, including those of gold medal-winning bobsledder Alexander Zubkov and skeleton star Alexander Tretiakov.
Rodchenkov later fled Russia and has since collaborated with McLaren report investigators.
The bobsled and skeleton world championships are scheduled to be hosted in Sochi from February 13 to 26.