Oslo, Norway, Dec 16 – Olympic biathlon champion Martin Fourcade has threatened to lead a boycott of the sport’s World Cup series unless the international federation takes tough action against Russian doping.
Fourcade and other top biathlon competitors are furious after the International Biathlon Union said 31 suspicious Russian cases had been raised in the latest report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
“It’s not like it’s only one or two. It’s 31 added to the 12 we had over the few past years in biathlon,” French champion Fourcade told Norwegian television channel NRK.
“If my federation don’t get big balls enough to tackle the problem, athletes have to do it on their own,” added Fourcade, winner of 10 world championship titles, speaking from a World Cup event in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic on Thursday.
“If nothing is done in January I will ask my colleagues in international teams, I mean Norway, I mean Germany, I mean Czech Republic, I mean all the nations, to not compete.
“I will be proud to do it for my sport to be clean.”
Norway’s 2010 Olympic champion Emil Hegle Svendsen said “the IBU must make a clear example to show that this will not be tolerated. I support the IBU if they do it.”
Anders Besseberg, the IBU president, told NRK he could not exclude a total ban on Russian athletes.
An IBU body investigating cases brought up by the McLaren inquiry into doping in all Russian sport held its first meeting on Thursday.
“Following the report publication, the IBU received 31 executive summaries on investigations related to Russian athletes,” said an IBU statement.
“At the moment the group is still reviewing and evaluating the evidentiary disclosure packages that contain detailed information on each individual case.”
The expert group is to recommend disciplinary action to the IBU executive board on December 22. The 31 athletes involved have not yet been named.
“The IBU is truly appalled and deeply saddened by the findings of the McLaren report. The IBU has always emphasised clean sport, the fight against doping and protection of clean athletes as its top priorities,” said the statement.