BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany is against boycotting next year’s bobsleigh and skeleton world championships in Sochi in protest against Russian doping but is ready to step in and host the event should it be moved.
Latvia pulled out of the Feb. 13-26 championships following the publication last week of the second part of the McLaren Report into Russian doping which revealed an institutional conspiracy to conceal positive drug tests.
South Korea, host nation of the 2018 Winter Olympics, and skeleton athletes from the United States are also considering withdrawing from the championships in protest at Russian doping.
“We basically reject a boycott because the biggest loser is always sport itself,” German bobsleigh federation (BSV) sports director Thomas Schwab told Reuters on Tuesday.
“There would be nothing worse than having a world championship where big nations won’t be taking part,” he added.
“But we would be very unhappy if it took place there (Sochi). We have offered the International Bobsleigh Skeleton Federation (IBSF) to jump in and host the event. We would welcome a move of the event to another location.”
The IBSF could switch the championships from Sochi, host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics, saying last week that it would “act promptly and decisively following the publication of the final McLaren Report” after reading and digesting it.
“The IBSF is having intense talks with Russian organizers,” Schwab said.
“We are in contact with the IBSF, they have to check the legal aspects and must also depend on a bit of understanding from the Russians as someone in the end will have to pay it,” he added.
“I expect a decision to be made by the end of the week.”
McLaren’s report said analysis of samples from four Russians who won gold medals in Sochi had shown salt readings that were physiologically impossible. There was also evidence of tampering with the samples of 12 Russian medalists at those Games.
“We are shocked with what allegedly happened there at Sochi,” Schwab said. “We were the first federation that demanded that the anti-doping should be managed by bodies outside Russia.”
Spain is also opposing the boycott.
“We are awaiting the IBSF’s decision,” Spanish Ice Sports Federation (FEDH) general secretary Xavier Cherta told Reuters.
“Our intention is for our two skeleton athletes, Ander Mirambell and Maria Montejano, to compete.”
The IBSF declined to comment when contacted by Reuters, saying any information would be published on the organization’s own media channels.
(Additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann,; Reporting by Adriana Garcia, editing by Ed Osmond)