(Reuters) - Russia will have to meet a set of criteria approved by the International Biathlon Union (IBU) if it is to become a full member again, new IBU President Olle Dahlin has said.
Dahlin, speaking to Reuters after the IBU’s executive board meeting at the weekend, said the Russian biathlon union (RBU), which is currently a provisional member following a major doping scandal in the country, was a key stakeholder in the sport.
Earlier this year, Austrian police raided the IBU headquarters as part of an investigation into the organisation’s leadership that was linked to doping issues.
Police said that then-IBU President Anders Besseberg and Secretary General Nicole Resch were the focus of their investigation. Besseberg told Reuters at the time it was linked to improper follow-ups on suspicious doping samples and other such matters.
This led to the departure of Besseberg and Resch and the election of Dahlin in September, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) freezing all payments to the IBU.
Russia was banned by the IOC from this year’s Pyeongchang Winter Games as punishment for alleged state-sponsored doping across many sports, including biathlon, at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
“In the long-term we want the RBU as a major player back but they need to do their homework,” Dahlin said in a telephone interview. “This is important for the trust of the IBU but also of the RBU.”
The IOC lifted its payments block on the IBU this week after noting progress in reforms.
Swede Dahlin said an IBU delegation would visit Moscow later this month to deliver a set of criteria which the RBU must meet.
“We have discussed the criteria. We will now meet in mid-November with the RBU to present these criteria and after that we will announce these criteria,” he said.
Without going into any detail, Dahlin said they covered “a relatively broad perspective.”
He also said the IBU needed to win back the trust of athletes and that he planned to meet with them at the opening of the World Cup season later this month in Slovenia.
“We want to communicate with all stakeholders. The athletes are very important,” he said. “We have scheduled an open meeting during the World Cup opening to explain what we are doing and that we are taking this very seriously.”
The IBU board also heard a progress report from its strategy working group as the global body looks to present its vision for the sport at next year’s extraordinary congress.
Dahlin was also concerned about the dwindling candidacies for the 2026 Winter Olympics.
Several cities have pulled out of the running, scared off by the cost of the Games or by local opposition, leaving only Stockholm, Calgary and an Italian bid.
Neither Stockholm nor the Italian bid enjoy full political backing while Calgary nearly pulled out days ago over finances. It faces as plebiscite next week.
“It is really important that there are a couple of good candidates for 2026,” Dahlin said. “It would not be a good situation if there were none.”
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Peter Rutherford