Russia fires back at ‘politicized’ calls for ban extension
The Russian Biathlon Union has hit back after officials at international governing body the IBU recommended extending the current ban on Russian athletes from global competitions. Russian biathlon bosses accused the IBU of “hypocrisy” and “politicizing” sport.
The International Biathlon Union (IBU) announced on Tuesday that its Executive Board would recommend to the IBU Congress in September that the suspension of Russian and Belarusian competitors – originally imposed at the start of March – should continue until further notice.
The IBU Executive Board also said that the membership suspension imposed on the Russian and Belarusian biathlon unions should be maintained, laying out terms for their reinstatement which included demands that the organizations “clearly distance themselves” from the conflict in Ukraine and “ensure that none of their officials or athletes are actively involved in the Russian military and/or take any part in the war effort.”
Responding with a statement of its own, the Russian Biathlon Union attacked the IBU for its stance – not least as legal wrangling is still underway regarding the first ban imposed by the global organization.
“The Russian Biathlon Union stands for civilized, legally motivated dispute resolution,” a press release read.
“Previously, the RBU, with the assistance of the Russian Olympic Committee, appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne (CAS) against the IBU decisions on the suspension of Russian athletes and officials (dated March 1, 2022) and on the suspension of the Russian Biathlon Union as a whole (dated March 28, 2022) as discriminatory on a national basis and contrary to the IBU Constitution.
“Both cases are currently under established arbitration procedure at CAS and have not yet been adjudicated or legally assessed.
“We believe that today's recommendations of the IBU Executive Board regarding the athletes of Russia and Belarus are just as hypocritical and politicized, also contradict the IBU Constitution, and are just as harmful to world biathlon as the March decisions,” it added.
“For our part, by September 8, 2022, as we have been asked, the Russian Biathlon Union will prepare a legally justified appeal to all Congress participants and IBU members, in which our position will be detailed.”
The IBU’s actions against Russia and Belarus follow a similar stance from numerous other sports federations after the IOC’s initial recommendation on February 28 that athletes from the two countries should be banned from competitions.
However, by suspending the membership of Russia and Belarus as well as sidelining athletes, the IBU has gone further than many other organizations.
Russian officials and sporting figures have consistently decried the bans imposed on the country as discriminatory and allowing politics to undermine sport, pointing out that other nations involved in conflicts down the years – not least the US and its allies – have not faced sanctions of any kind.