Russia stripped of bobsleigh and skeleton World Championships

Russia stripped of bobsleigh and skeleton World Championships

Olympic champion Lizzy Yarnold has hailed the decision to strip Sochi of next year's bobsleigh and skeleton World Championships in the wake of the second McLaren report into state-sponsored doping in Russia.

The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation announced the move on Tuesday after coming under increasing pressure to act once the extent of the report by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren became apparent.

Over 1,000 Russian athletes were implicated in doping improprieties, including many Winter Olympians, vindicating the stance taken by Yarnold in October when she said she was considering a boycott of the event.

Yarnold tweeted: "@IBSF have moved the 2017 World Champs from Russia. So glad our voices are being heard and our sport is joining the fight against doping in sport #CleanSport".

The IBSF said in a statement that it was moving the competition to ensure it remained focused on "sport rather than accusations and discussions" and that the efforts of the Russian Bobsleigh Federation in putting on the event would be "nearly impossible to appreciate" in the "current climate".

The IBSF, which is expected to announce a new location in the coming days, said: "The IBSF executive committee felt that during this difficult time it is prudent not to organise such an event in Russia. This decision was made for two primary reasons:

"First: 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.

"Second: The Russian Bobsleigh Federation has put a great effort in the preparation of the World Championships, but the current climate would make it nearly impossible to appreciate the efforts of the organising committee to host a great event or the quality of the Sanki Sliding Center as one of the best tracks in the world.

"Having stated that, the IBSF asks all members and athletes for fair play and respect, which also includes the assumption of innocence for any athlete, regardless of national affiliation, until proven guilty."

The Latvian Skeleton Federation announced last week that it would boycott the event if it was held in Russia, while both the British and South Korean governing bodies had indicated they were considering following suit.

In a statement the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation said: "We welcome the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation's decision to move the upcoming World Championships to a location other than Sochi.

"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.

"We look forward to learning more about the new location for the World Championships and to seeing our athletes represent the nation with pride at the showpiece event of our season."

The IBSF's decisive action will raise hopes of a thorough investigation into the results at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in which the British team have a particular interest, having finished in fifth place in the four-man competition behind two Russian crews.

GB Bobsleigh performance director Gary Anderson praised Yarnold for highlighting the issue and added that the IBSF deserved credit for the manner in which they reached their conclusion.

Anderson told Press Association Sport: "The IBSF have been under tremendous pressure over the last 48 hours but they have taken a measured approach and come up with the correct decision.

"I think Lizzy also deserves great credit because for her to do that (suggest a boycott) certainly brought the issue to the forefront of everybody's mind."

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