Russian Bobsleigh Federation Accepts Decision to Move Championships From Sochi

Latvia will not send its skeleton athletes to this season's world championships in Sochi, the first such announcement by any national team in response to the Russian doping scandal.

The World Anti-Doping Agency revealed last week that doping test samples of over 1,000 Russian athletes who took part in global competitions in the last five years, including over 10 Olympic medalists in Sochi, were tampered under a state-sponsored doping scheme by Russia.

The new venue will be decided in the next few days, the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) said in a statement.

Last week a damning report by Canadian professor Richard McLaren claimed more than 1,000 Russian athletes in at least 30 sports were involved in a state-sponsored doping programme.

McLaren's report showed that some Russian gold medalists from the Sochi Games were tainted by the state-sponsored doping program.

"We believe the decision is in the best interests of clean sport and we are pleased that the IBSF have acted quickly following the publication of the second McLaren report on Friday".

Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of the Moscow Laboratory who has since left Russian Federation and worked with McLaren investigators to expose wrongdoing, told the New York Times in May that those whose samples were illegally manipulated at Sochi 2014 included gold medal winning bobsledder Alexander Zubkov and skeleton star Alexander Tretiakov.

The IBSF said the switch from Sochi, host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics, was made for two main reasons.

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Latvia's skeleton team had previously vowed to boycott the event.

Firstly, to allow athletes and coaches from all nations to participate in a competition that focuses on sport rather than accusations and discussions, whether justified or not.

"Lithuania? Estonia? Do not make me laugh", he added.

USA Bobsled & Skeleton chief Darrin Steele had told AFP that most United States athletes due to take part in Sochi from February 17-26 had voiced concerns about competing in Russian Federation.

These world championships were scheduled to happen over the last two weeks of February in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, on the track used for the 2014 Sochi Games.

"This was a serious decision and one the IBSF did not take lightly", USA Bobsled and Skeleton CEO Darrin Steele said.

The British Olympic Committee had also said they were ready to "support" a boycott.

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