Sports federation shoots down Russian re-entry appeals


The International Biathlon Union (IBU) has prolonged a suspension originally handed down in March

The International Biathlon Union (IBU) has extended its ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes at a Congress held on Friday, where International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach also made opening remarks.

The IBU adopted a motion submitted by its Executive Board to confirm its decision from March 1 this year not to allow any Russian or Belarusian athletes or officials at its events “until further notice.”

A total of 39 members voted in favor of the motion, which was borne out of the IOC’s recommendation back in February to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes as a response to the military conflict in Ukraine. Two IBU members cast a ‘no’ vote, while five abstained.

READ MORE: Russia fires back at ‘politicized’ calls for ban extension

The issue of Russian and Belarusian membership of the organization – which has been suspended – was also voted on.

Forty members supported the motion submitted by the Executive Board to suspend the Russian and Belarusian Federations “until they demonstrate their full commitment to supporting and promoting the purposes and principles of the IBU,” with one voting ‘no’, four abstaining, and another vote invalid.

Russian media reported that the IBU had sent out a letter from the Russian Biathlon Union (RBU) to all members before the vote, in which Russian officials requested their return to the fold.

According to RBU press officer Sergey Averyanov, via the Telegram messaging service, the federations of Norway, Poland, Brazil and Ukraine all spoke out against the re-admission of Russians and Belarusians at the Congress.

Reacting to the news, Russian biathlete Natalia Gerbulova said she was “offended and annoyed that we are being deprived of what we have been preparing for all our lives.”

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Former biathlon Olympic champion Dmitry Vasilyev. © RIA / Aleksandr Vilf
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RBU president Viktor Maigurov echoed these words, predicting that the further suspension of Russian biathlon may even force the premature termination of many athletes’ and coaches’ careers.

“The suspension can last for several years and we have no control over it, but the consequences of it can be serious. Do you think that’s fair?” Maigurov was quoted as saying at the Congress.

“If you want to damage Russian biathlon, then this is your right, but many athletes and coaches could end their careers,” Maigurov went on.

“You can also make our young athletes think about changing their sports citizenship, [and] thousands of Russian children can leave biathlon, preferring other sports [such as] tennis, hockey or judo.

“World biathlon will survive without Russian athletes, but I am not sure whether it will help the sport, nor do I think that it will help Ukrainian athletes.

“This is your responsibility: we can build walls or make bridges, we must make the right choice,” Maigurov demanded of the biathlon authorities.

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