Sports federation chiefs issue readmission terms to Russia
Officials at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) have recommended a continued ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes, also issuing demands to the biathlon federations of the two countries if they want their membership suspension lifted.
The IBU first announced a ban on Russian and Belarusian competitors in early March, following a recommendation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The IBU later took the additional step of suspending the membership of the Russian and Belarusian biathlon federations, accusing them of “violating humanitarian obligations.”
The IBU announced on Tuesday that its Executive Board will recommend to the organization’s Congress in September that the bans on Russian and Belarusian athletes continue, while setting out demands to the two nations’ biathlon federations if they want their membership status reinstated.
“The IBU Executive Board has decided to recommend to the IBU Congress to maintain the suspension of the RBU’s [Russian Biathlon Union] and BiFB’s [Belarusian Biathlon Federation] membership of the IBU until certain conditions are met,” a press release read.
“The Executive Board is also seeking confirmation by the IBU Congress for its earlier decision that Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials will continue to not be allowed to compete in international events until further notice to protect athlete safety and the integrity of the IBU competitions.”
The decision will be presented for approval at the IBU Congress in Salzburg, Austria, on September 15-18.
If the membership suspensions are confirmed, they could remain in force until the next IBU Congress.
The IBU Executive Board also demanded that in order to have sanctions lifted, the Russian and Belarusian biathlon federations must “demonstrate their full commitment to support and promote the purposes and principles of the IBU.”
It added that the two organizations must “clearly distance themselves” from the conflict in Ukraine and “ensure that none of their officials or athletes are actively involved in the Russian military” or “take any part” in military efforts.
“The IBU Executive Board will monitor the implementation of the conditions above and may provisionally lift the suspension imposed until the next Congress, if it considers in its absolute discretion that the above-mentioned conditions have been fulfilled,” it added.
The statement noted that “the RBU and BiFB are asked to respond to the motions and will have the right to be heard at the IBU Congress.”
Biathlon is just one of a wide range of sports where Russian athletes have been sidelined because of the conflict in Ukraine.
Russian officials and sporting figures have described the bans and discriminatory and undermining the principle of sport being outside of politics. It has also been noted that other nations – not least the US and its NATO allies – have not faced similar sporting sanctions down the years, despite their governments being involved in conflicts around the world.