HOCHFILZEN, Austria, (Reuters) - Anton Shipulin was too strong on the skis as he held off great rival Martin Fourcade of France to give Russia the gold medal in the men's 4x7.5km relay at the biathlon world championships on Saturday.

Shipulin missed a shot in the standing position in the final relay while Fourcade, who started his relay in third place some 12 seconds off the pace, hit all the targets.

But Shipulin appeared more at ease on the skis and he beat his great rival by 5.8 seconds to take the title with team mates Alexey Volkov, Maxim Tsvetkov and Anton Babikov.

Austria claimed third place while defending champions Norway were never in the mix, finishing eighth.

Russia have had troubled preparations as the International Biathlon Union (IBU) told them to give up the right to host the 2021 world championships amid doping concerns.

Eleven-times world champion Fourcade, who has been leading calls to eradicate doping from the sport, and Shipulin were involved in controversy last week.

The Frenchman walked off the podium following the mixed relay after Shipulin and his team mate Aleksandr Loginov refused to shake hands with him following an incident during the race.

The world championships end on Sunday with the men's and women's mass start events.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot, editing by Ed Osmond)