IOC suspends biathlon support

The International Olympic Committee announced Tuesday that it would suspend direct financial support to the International Biathlon Union in the wake of a doping scandal related to Russia.

The IOC said in a statement that it will stop giving money to the IBU until certain conditions are met. The IBU’s former president, Anders Bessberg, resigned earlier this year after Austrian police raided IBU’s office. The IBU leadership was accused of taking $300,000 in bribes from Russia to cover up athletes’ failed doping tests.

The first condition is the IBU must elect a new president at its meeting this September. The IBU also has to provide reports to the IOC, including an audit of its anti-doping program, a new code of ethics, and a commitment to join the International Testing Agency [ITA].

The IBU issued a statement on Wednesday, saying the move by the IOC would be seen as a positive challenge.

“The IBU regards the decision by the IOC as an encouragement to implement the governance reform steps it has already agreed on in its IBU Executive Board Meetings,” the statement said. “The IBU is confident that the requested reports about IBU’s anti-doping programme, its governance reforms and the summary of actions taken by the IBU Independent Working Group … will be to the satisfaction of the IOC.”

The Russian doping scandal involves a wide-spread, coordinated effort to cover up positive tests for performance enhancing drugs over several years. Russian athletes who won at the country’s 2014 Socchi Olympics were stripped of their medals, and a couple of Russian athletes – competing under the IOC flag – failed drug tests in this year’s Winter Olympics in South Korea.

The doping scandal caused the U.S. Biathlon team to boycott the IBU season’s final race, which was held in Russia. Biathletes like Lowell Bailey, of Lake Placid, and Tim Burke, from Paul Smiths, were part of the boycott. The boycotted race took place after the Olympics.