2017 World Championships US Olympic chiefs support bobsled move, but oppose boycotts

The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation announced it was withdrawing the February championships from Russia.

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Next year's bobsleigh and skeleton world championships have been moved from Russia after a major doping scandal play

Next year's bobsleigh and skeleton world championships have been moved from Russia after a major doping scandal

(AFP/File)
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United States Olympic chiefs backed a decision to move next year's bobsleigh and skeleton world championships out of Russia but said the organisation remained opposed to boycotts of future events in the drug-tarnished country.

The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation announced it was withdrawing the February championships from Russia in the wake of the final installment last week of a damning report by professor Richard McLaren into Russian doping.

United States Olympic Committee chief executive Scott Blackmun told reporters the IBSF had made the right decision following widespread unease among athletes due to compete in Russia.

"We fully support the decision bobsled made today," Blackmun told reporters on a conference call.

"It seemed like the right thing to do given how strongly the athletes felt about going to Russia."

However Blackmun said that while USOC supported stripping Russia of the championships, the organisation remained opposed to "sport-by-sport" boycotts of other events.

"I don't think we support a boycott of any kind," Blackmun said.

"At the end of the day our athletes need to have the opportunity to be well-informed and make decisions about where they compete.

"It's not our job as an NOC (National Olympic Committee) to make decisions about international events."

The McLaren report, which had been commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, detailed a vast drug scandal in Russia that involved more than 1,000 Russian athletes across 30 sports in a state-backed doping programme.

Blackmun described the report's findings as "stunning" and called on a unified response to address the issue of drugs in sport.

"We need to move with a sense of urgency. I think that's important. We need to make sure that we have the international federations, and the NOCs, and WADA, and national governments all on the same page," Blackmun said.

"It's not a simple issue. If you asked everybody how the system works today I'm not sure you'd get a consistent response, even from informed stakeholders. So I think it's important that we take what we've learned from the McLaren Report and apply it to the future.

"This is not just an issue in one country. It's an issue around the world and it's going to require that everybody around the world makes an investment in trying to ensure that clean athletes can compete cleanly."

Meanwhile USOC chairman Larry Probst said the committee was looking forward to working with the administration of US President-elect Donald Trump, who recently called International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach to express support for Los Angeles' bid for the 2024 Summer Games.

"He's very excited about the thought of having the Olympic Games in the United States in 2024," Probst said of Trump. "I think we've got a fan who will be in the White House... and that's a good thing."

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