Sports federation accused of ‘leading anti-Russian front’
The International Biathlon Union (IBU) has been accused of leading “politicized” efforts against Russian sport after announcing it was suspending the membership of federations from Russia and Belarus.
The IBU announced the step on Tuesday, claiming the Russian and Belarusian biathlon federations had “violated humanitarian obligations” and “brought the sport of biathlon into disrepute.”
The IBU also argued that Russia’s military operation in Ukraine “has stopped the activities of the Ukrainian Biathlon Federation” and that “it would be unfair for the [national federations] of the attacking countries to continue to enjoy the full rights of IBU membership when their nations have disrupted the conduct of sport in Ukraine.”
“The [Executive Board] will monitor the developments of this situation very closely and will review this decision in the event of a change of circumstances,” it added.
The IBU previously reversed a decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals, instead announcing on March 2 that it would impose a full ban on competitors and officials from the two nations.
Before Russian athletes were banned outright, the Russian Biathlon Union (RBU) had said it would boycott the remaining World Cup and IBU Cup events of this season, citing the need to “avoid the risk of humiliation and security fears for Russian biathletes at these events.”
Tuesday’s news of the suspension of the Russian and Belarusian federations by the IBU was met with condemnation by sporting figures in Russia.
“We consider the decision to suspend the membership of the Russian Biathlon Union in the IBU politicized and not based on any legal document,” said Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) president Stanislav Pozdnyakov.
“In addition, this decision of the IBU Executive Board creates a dangerous precedent for all other Russian sports federations.”
Former Russian biathlon boss Vladimir Drachev accused the IBU of being “one of the leaders of the anti-Russian front” in world sport.
“They did everything they could to get the Russian Biathlon Union out of the IBU,” said Drachev.
“What will happen in September at the [IBU] congress is clear. We won’t be invited there. No one will openly support Russia in the current situation…
“Now there will be a chain of suspensions for international federations that look more at the political component than at sports or human factors,” added the former RBU chief.
The current head of the RBU, Viktor Maygurov, suggested the organization would appeal any suspension of its membership with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland, having already launched an appeal against the ban placed on Russian athletes.
Elsewhere, Russia is awaiting the outcome of a FIFA Congress in Qatar on Thursday, which could see the Russian Football Union (RFU) suspended from the global organization.