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Russian Biathlon Union Downgraded to Provisional Membership

IBU President Anders Besseberg speaking at a press conference regarding the IBU’s decision to relegate the Russian Biathlon Union to provisional membership on Sunday, Dec. 10. (Screenshot: IBU TV)

On Sunday at the conclusion of the World Cup weekend in Hochfilzen, Austria, the International Biathlon Union (IBU) announced its Executive Board decision to relegate the Russian Biathlon Union (RBU) to provisional membership for the remainder of the 2017/2018 season.

Based on a press release, which refers to the IBU Rules outlined in its 2016 Constitution, and IBU President Anders Besseberg, who spoke at a press conference on Sunday, Russia can continue to enter athletes and host IBU events and competitions, including the season-ending World Cup in Tyumen, Russia, March 20-25.

The RBU can participate at IBU Congress meetings but it cannot vote — at least until the IBU Executive Board decides whether or not to restore its full membership next spring.

The decision came as a direct result of the IOC’s recent move to ban Russia as a delegation at the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics.

“It means in practice, they [the RBU] have no right to vote at IBU Congress,” Besseberg said of the IBU’s decision at the press conference. “It means they have no right to bring motions to IBU Congress, they have no right to propose persons for election at IBU Congress. That is the three main things.”

According to the IBU press release:

“The IBU Executive Board will review restitution of the RBU to full membership at a later date but not before the end of the 2017/2018 competition season, subject to the following conditions:

(a) the IOC has lifted the suspension of the ROC [Russian Olympic Committee];

(b) no adverse analytical findings or other anti – doping rule violations (ADRVs) of Russian biathletes committed after 1 January 2017 have been reported;

(c) the RBU fully cooperates with any investigation of any alleged ADRVs in the context of, and the involvement of officials in, the alleged doping conspiracy that was described by the IP Report, Dr Rodchenkov’s affidavits and the IOC Dsciplinary Commission (‘Schmid Commission’) Report.”

Speaking with German media after the press conference, Besseberg said the decision does not affect the Tyumen World Cup or other IBU events, but that is subject to change at future Executive Board meetings or decisions at an extraordinary congress.

Besseberg also said that Victor Maygurov, first vice president of the IBU Executive Board and a member of the Russian Biathlon Union, will not be suspended since he was not mentioned in any of the reports by McLaren, Schmid, or otherwise. Other members of the RBU will be, but Besseberg declined to name them.

Since Besseberg had not heard anything from the RBU about the decision, he assumed it had accepted it. Besseberg said he was surprised that the team meeting wasn’t better attended; most teams were represented by one coach or official. He took that as a positive sign that athletes were focusing on their sport while leaving the politics to their representatives.

“There was some questions from the athletes and of course we were answering the questions the same way we are answering you,” he said during the press conference. “I think it’s very important that we are having informations meetings with those who are in the center … the athletes.”

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