February 16, 2018 / 2:42 AM / 4 months ago

Biathlon: Sweden's Samuelsson criticizes IBU over Russia events

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Olympic biathlon silver medalist Sebastian Samuelsson has criticized the International Biathlon Union (IBU) decision to continue to stage World Cup events in Russia, despite athlete concerns about state-sponsored doping in the country.

Biathlon - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Men's 20 km Individual Final - Alpensia Biathlon Centre - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 15, 2018 - Sebastian Samuelsson of Sweden finishes. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

The IBU said on Wednesday that three events scheduled in Russia would go ahead, citing the fact that they were announced before the Russian Anti-Doping Authority (RUSADA) was declared non-compliant amid allegations of state-sponsored doping.

“I think that a country that doesn’t have a working anti-doping organization, and that hasn’t been given the all-clear by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) to carry out tests should not be holding championships,” Samuelsson told Reuters.

The IBU decision prompted an angry tweet from Samuelsson in his native language, stating his disappointment.

Samuelsson said the Swedish Biathlon Association is considering a boycott of the final World Cup event of the season in Russia, which is due to take place in Tyumen from March 20-25.

“I hope that more athletes will step forward and say that we shouldn’t go there,” he said.

“The Swedish association says we shouldn’t go there with a team, I don’t think it feels good to go there.”

Samuelsson subsequently contacted Reuters to clarify his comments, saying that the Swedish association is not actively considering a boycott at this time, but that he hopes they will.

Feb 15, 2018; Pyeongchang, South Korea; Sebastian Samuelsson (SWE) in the men's 20km individual biathlon during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Alpensia Biathlon Centre. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Asked if other athletes shared his concerns, Samuelsson was categorical.

“I’m completely certain of that. There has been a lot of pressure from the athletes to take those competitions from them (the Russians), and they haven’t done that,” he added.

“I think it’s a shame that they don’t listen to us athletes.”

Russia’s Olympic Committee was banned from sending a team to Pyeongchang, but athletes who passed strict checks were invited to attend as Olympic Athletes from Russia under a neutral flag.

Samuelsson, who narrowly missed out on a medal when he came fourth in Thursday’s 20km individual race, said that there was plenty of talk amongst athletes about the situation.

“When we’re here at the Olympics we try to focus on these competitions,” he said.

“But obviously we talk about it.”

Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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