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Joanne Thomson will be leaving her post as the Executive Director, Biathlon Canada announced in a press release on Friday.

Thomson is a former World Cup biathlete who has held the position since 2003. She previously worked with the organization in several other capacities, including as an Athlete Representative to the Executive Board and a coach at various levels. She will be moving on to work with the Canadian Lacrosse Association.

“Joanne has contributed significantly to our successes, to the development of biathlon in Canada, and to our stature internationally,” Biathlon Canada President Murray Wylie wrote in the press release. “She has worked closely with many of you in our biathlon family – athletes, coaches, officials, supporters, sponsors, funding partners, staff, etc. This contribution is no small feat, is impressive, and will be missed within our organization… On behalf of everyone in Biathlon Canada and personally, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Joanne for the tremendous efforts made by her in moving our organization forward and wish her all the best in her future endeavours.”

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Anders Besseberg has been re-elected as the President of the International Biathlon Union.

The Norwegian has held the post since 1993 and defeated Alexander Tikhonov of Russia and Dr. James Carrabre of Canada in an election at the IBU Congress in St. Wolfgang, Austria, this morning.

The election of the President of IBU was first and the Congress reelected Anders Besseberg with absolute majority as President of the IBU for the period 2014-2018,” IBU Communication Director wrote in an e-mail to the media.

Besseberg received 33 votes from the 50 member federation. Tikhonov received 11 and Carrabre 6.

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The last few days in Tyumen, Russia, have kicked off Summer Biathlon World Championships, an annual event with varying participation that is likely to be pushed harder by the IBU in coming seasons. This year mainly eastern European and Asian teams attended, probably due to the cost of getting to the city – which is about 800 km northwest of the Kazakhstan capital of Astana – from farther afield.

Summer rollerski competitions in both cross country and biathlon often draw from a different group of athletes than the winter events, but this year a number of teams brought their regular on-snow World Cup squads. This might have been prompted by Tyumen’s rise on the international scene: the city will host a European Championships in 2016 and a World Cup the next season, and this gave teams the opportunity to check out the area and the range.

The opening day of competition featured junior and senior mixed relays, and the Czech Republic pulled out all the stops in the senior race. The team used just three spare rounds over eight shooting bouts and cruised to a 1:47 win over Ukraine, with Slovenia another minute back in third. It was probably no coincidence: the Czechs brought 3/4 of their silver-medal Olympic mixed relay team, including budding superstars Gabriela Soukalova and Ondrej Moravec as well as three-time World Cup podium finisher Veronika Vitkova. In fact, their only change from the Sochi roster was to replace Jaroslav Soukup with Michal Slesingr, himself a World Cup winner.

Still, the competition was fierce, as the Ukraine team featured Olympic medalist Valj Semerenko, the Slovenians brought 3/4 of their usual winter World Cup relay squad, and the Russian team was composed entirely of current and former national team members. The level of performance at this year’s championships is a big step up from last season in Forni Avoltri, Italy, where fields were both smaller and featured fewer stars. This year, 27 countries brought a total of over 150 athlete to the Championships.

On Saturday, senior sprints were held. Teja Gregorin of Slovenia, the bronze medalist from the 2014 Olympic pursuit, ended up tied with Krystyna Palka of Poland, herself a silver medalist from 2013 World Championships. Both had a single penalty – as did third- and fourth-place Chinese competitors Jialin Tang and Yan Zhang, who were 5.3 and 8.1 seconds back, respectively.

In the men’s 10 k sprint, Moravec – who earned individual silver and bronze in Sochi – had a single penalty to take a 6.5-second win over Michael Rösch of Belgium (who originally competed for Germany but has since switched his citizenship). Martin Otcenas of Slovakia was a surprise bronze medalist.

Racing continues with pursuit competitions on Sunday.

 

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(IBU press release)

Decision of the IBU Anti-Doping Hearing Panel in the case of Lithuanian biathlete Karolis ZLATKAUSKAS

The Anti-Doping Hearing Panel of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) at a hearing before the panel of arbitrators at the IBU Headquarters in Salzburg, Austria on March 24, 2014 made the following decision on July 14, 2014.

1. The athlete Mr. Karolis ZLATKAUSKAS (LTU) is ineligible to compete for a period of two years, commencing from December 19, 2013.

2. All competition results of Mr. Karolis ZLATKAUSKAS obtained from the date of the sample was collected (December 19, 2013) are disqualified with all of the resulting consequences.

The test was conducted on December 19, 2013 in Obertilliach (AUT) as an Out-of-Competition test.

Details on this decision can be found on the IBU website: www.biathlonworld.com.

The case can now be appealed within 21 days to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

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After months of waiting, the International Biathlon Union is now releasing anti-doping verdicts from the winter in droves. On the heels of the announcements on Wednesday that Irina Starykh of Russia would receive a 2-year ban for recombinant erythropoetin and Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle of Germany an identical ban for methylhexaneamine, the IBU has now announced that Russia’s Ekaterina Iourieva will be banned for eight years for recombinant erythropoetin. A 2008 World Champion, it is Iourieva’s second time testing positive for EPO.

The IBU writes in a press release:

The Anti-Doping Hearing Panel of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) at a hearing before the panel of arbitrators at the IBU Headquarters in Salzburg, Austria on March 24, 2014 made the following decision on July 14, 2014:

    1. The athlete Ms. Ekaterina IOURIEVA (RUS) is ineligible to compete for a period of eight years, commencing from December 23, 2013.
    1. All competition results of Ms. Ekaterina IOURIEVA obtained since the date of sample collection (i.e. December 23, 2013) are disqualified, with all of the resulting consequences.

The test was conducted on December 23, 2013 in Pokljuka (SLO) as an Out-of-Competition test.

Details on this decision can be found on the IBU website: www.biathlonworld.com.

The case can now be appealed within 21 days to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

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(IBU press release)

Decision of the IBU Anti-Doping Hearing Panel in the case of Russian biathlete Irina Starykh

SALZBURG (July 16) – The Anti-Doping Hearing Panel of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) at a hearing before the panel of arbitrators at the Headquarter of the IBU in Salzburg, Austria on March 22, 2014 made the following decision on July 14, 2014:

  1. The athlete Ms. Irina STARYKH (RUS) is ineligible to compete for a period of two years, commencing from December 23, 2013
  2. All competition results of Ms. Irina STARYKH obtained from the date of the sample was collected (i.e. December 2013) are disqualified with all of the resulting consequences.

The test was conducted on December 23, 2013 in Pokljuka (SLO) as an Out-of- Competition test.

Details on this decision can be found on the IBU website: www.biathlonworld.com.
The case can now be appealed within 21 days to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Decision of the IBU Anti-Doping Hearing Panel in the case of German biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle

The Anti-Doping Hearing Panel of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) has in succession of the case managed by the IOC during the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi and a hearing before the panel of arbitrators at the Headquarter of the IBU in Salzburg, Austria on March 22, 2014 made the following decision on July 14, 2014:

  1. The athlete, Ms. Eva SACHENBACHER-STEHLE (GER) committed an in- competition doping offense at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, as determined (and not contested by the athlete) by the IOC Disciplinary Commission.
  2. Ms. SACHENBACHER-STEHLE is sanctioned with a period of ineligibility for two years, commencing retroactively as of date of the sample collection, February 17, 2014.
  3. All competition results of Ms. SACHENBACHER-STEHLE obtained from the date of the sample collection are nullified.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on February 22, 2014 that biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle of Germany was to be excluded from the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.

Sachenbacher-Stehle, 33, tested positive on February 17, 2014 for methylhexaneamine (dimethylpentylamine).

Details on this decision can be found on the IOC website at the link:

http://www.olympic.org/Documents/Commissions_PDFfiles/Disciplinary_commission/Sochi 2014_Disciplinary_Commission-Sachenbacher.pdf

As well as on the IBU website: www.biathlonworld.com.
The case can now be appealed within 21 days to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

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Ole Einar Bjørndalen spoke to the United Nations in April about the importance of sports for children. The 13-time Olympic medalist – he now has the most medals of any competitor at a winter Olympic games – spoke on a “Panel for Sport on Development and Peace.”

Here’s the transcript of his remarks, from the Madshus website:

“A few days before I went to New York for this meeting, I watched an interview on TV about a soccer player in Premier League. Normally I am not very interested in soccer players and their lives. But this TV-report touched me and opened my eyes. 
This interview also built a bridge for me between the possibilities of sport and this meeting in United Nations.
The soccer-player was Steven Pienaar from South Africa, playing for Everton in England. He told an emotional story about growing up in the slum in Johannesburg.

His childhood was in an area with killing, gang crime and drugs, but Pienaar told gratefully about how soccer saved his life. 
He told how his trainer believed in him. How the trainer saw his potential, and developed him to be a great soccer player.
Instead of a life in slum and crime he got the chance to live his dream in clubs like Ajax, Dortmund, Tottenham and Everton. Pienaar drew a winning ticket.
His tears of gratefulness in this interview said more than a thousand words.

For me this was a great inspiration to this meeting in New York, and the work of using sport to make a better world. Not with the goal of creating rich soccer players, but to give children better lives. 
I was so lucky to grow up on a small farm in Simostranda in Norway. Simostranda is a small place with 350 inhabitants (and twice as many members in the sports club…).

I was also lucky to grow up in a country that has traditionally offered many opportunities to children, youth and people of all ages to access sport and physical activity and enjoy its benefits.

My home place is so small that if you close your eyes for a second, you have driven past…Quite a difference from Johannesburg. The childhood in Simostranda and in country like Norway was my winning ticket. The only crime we knew about was stealing apples from the neighbors. 
But sport in my childhood was, in a way, similar for me and Steven Pienaar, because sport also helped me to build character.

The same way as Pienaar is grateful to his trainer, I am grateful to mine. This tells me that children need to have trainers with dedication and good values. A trainer is a true role model, and can make a difference in children’s lives.

I have decided to continue my career another two years, but I have already increased my focus on helping children to benefit from sport. I want to see children around the world have fun with sport and develop social skills and healthier lives through sport.

I am proud to be a member of the International Olympic Committee, and to come from a country with a strong sport culture and a long tradition in using sport for development in other parts of the world too.
 The Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee is supporting projects in Asia and Africa, some of them in cooperation with UN agencies.

I know that this audience believes in the power of sport. 
Please use your influence to encourage more governments’ investment in sport for youths, and especially in underprivileged communities that badly need help.

Thank you.”

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The U.S. Biathlon Association has decided its qualification criteria and team size for the upcoming season’s World Cup, World Championships, IBU Cup, and Open European Championships teams. This year, the Americans will have their pre-World Cup camp in Sjusjøen, Norway. All five athletes who scored World Cup points last season – Tim Burke, Lowell Bailey, Susan Dunklee, Hannah Dreissigacker, and Leif Nordgren – are pre-qualified for the camp as well as opening tour of World Cup competitions in Östersund, Sweden; Hochfilzen, Austria; and Pokljuka, Slovenia, before Christmas.

An additional man and woman will be selected based on rollerski races in Jericho, Vermont, this summer and other races in the fall. As usual, IBU Cup positions will be filled based on trials to be held in December in Mount Itasca, Minnesota.

Guidelines can be found here and will later be posted on USBA’s website.

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Tara Geraghty-Moats (Photo: http://tgm-skitolivelivetoski.blogspot.se)

Tara Geraghty-Moats (Photo: Geraghty-Moats/tgm-skitolivelivetoski.blogspot.se)

After a biathlon career that saw her land a top-20 result at 2012 World Junior Championships, Tara Geraghty-Moats is returning to an earlier love in the world of sports: flying though the air. A Nordic-Combined athlete as a younger junior, Geraghty-Moats decided to compete in Ski Jumping National Championships last fall, where after only a few practice jumps in the last few years she finished fifth. That netted her a nomination to the national team this season, which she happily accepted.

“We are just starting summer jumping, so apart from conditioning, I haven’t put that much training time in as a ‘Special Jumper’,” Geraghty-Moats wrote in an e-mail to FasterSkier. “I’m in Park City and will have some of my first jumps of the season with the national team, on Saturday. So far everything is going great. I’m thrilled be back in the ski jumping world.”

In the past season she competed in jumping competitions in addition to biathlon races, traveling around the U.S. as well as to Lahti, Finland, for Continental Cup competitions.

The decision to leave biathlon is final, and Geraghty-Moats recently posted on her blog that she was selling her rifle stock.

“I miss biathlon quite a bit, but there were a lot of factors that lead me to feel biathlon was not a good an option for my future right now, regardless of my return to ski jumping,” she wrote in her e-mail.

But she isn’t completely leaving the endurance-based Nordic world behind.

“As for missing roller skiing?” she wrote. “I don’t miss it at all… because I haven’t stopped. I think roller skiing is good cross training, and there is also the factor that Women’s Nordic-combined may soon become a reality. The only reason I would stop, is if I, or my coach felt it negatively impacted my jumping.”

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The billionaire owner of the Brooklyn Nets NBA Team, Mikhail Prokhorov, until recently was also the head of the Russian Biathlon Union. He vowed to clean up the team so that there was less doping, and also to resign if the team did not win 2 or 3 gold medals at the Sochi Olympics.

In a press conference in Moscow, Prokhorov announced that he was, indeed, stepping down and would not seek re-election.

“We made a tough but thoughtful decision, to withdraw from the RRF,” Prokhorov said, according to a translation of the site skisport.ru. “We are engaged in, as they say, crisis management, trying to bring our biathlon in a more modern look, to bring it out of the plight which many sports were in after the difficult period of the 1990′s… I came into this sport, knowing it only from the outside, as a fan, so had many illusions first. Gradually they dispersed, and were replaced by other relationships. Perhaps it can be compared to the relationship between people: first you are passionate about the romance which attracts you. Then it goes, and you’re more relaxed in the workwork, but in the place of romance comes the knowledge, confidence and reliability. I do not regret one day spent in the biathlon.”

Prokhorov’s goals went largely unfulfilled. Just before the Olympics, the International Biathlon Union (IBU) announced sanctions of Irina Starykh and Ekaterina Iourieva for using the performance-enhancing drug EPO; their cases are still ongoing.

The Russians also took home only one gold medal from Sochi, in the men’s 4 x 7.5 k relay.

The IBU’s website, biathlonworld.com, also announced changes to the Russian team’s staffing:

“The Russian Biathlon Federation announced their new National Team coaching staff this week. Alexander Kasperovich will serve as Men’s Head Coach, with Andrey Padin as physical coach and Sergey Bashkirov as shooting coach. Returning to the women’s team, but now as Head Coach is Vladimir Korolkevich, who will be assisted by Sergey Efimov as physical coach and Sergey Konovalov as shooting coach.”

As had been long expected, women’s coach Wolfgang Pichler has left the team. There had long been rumored differences between him and the Russian federation which hired him to clean up their image. In a recent and fascinating interview, Pichler goes into detail about some of those problems, including what he calls “interference” by the federation in his coaching and training plans. He also addresses the fact that Vladimir Korolkevich, the coach of the other women’s training group who was also the coach of the two athletes caught doping, was promoted to head coach after the incident while Pichler himself was marginalized:

Interviewer: I may be wrong, but I think that the coach should not remain in his post if his team suddenly occurs doping scandal. 

Wolfgang Pichler: I absolutely agree with you. Anyway, in my personal contract with SBR in black and white it was written: if one of my athletes at least once gets in doping trouble, I will immediately be fired. 

Interviewer: I know that in January you asked Mikhail Prokhorov to free you from having to go to Sochi. [Why]? 

Pichler: I just did not want to have anything to do with a coach whose athletes were convicted of doping violations. And at that moment I was so beside myself, I did not want to hear some general arguments in favor of staying in the team. 

Interviewer: What made you change your mind? 

Pichler: Only that of five athletes in the Olympic team, four were mine. And I had no right to put my emotions above their interests.

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