Top skeleton slider’s federation boycotts Sochi World Championships
The Latvian skeleton federation is boycotting the world championships in Sochi in February, meaning the world’s best in the sport appears set to skip the biggest competition of the season over Russia’s doping allegations.
Latvian Martins Dukurs has won seven straight World Cup skeleton season titles and four of the last five world championships.
The federation’s Sunday boycott statement was shared by a Facebook account appearing to belong to Dukurs. Dukurs’ father and coach confirmed the boycott, according to Latvian media.
Dukurs was upset for Olympic titles in 2010 and 2014, taking silver behind Canadian Jon Montgomery in Vancouver and Russian Alexander Tretiakov in Sochi.
Tretiakov is one of the athletes named on the Sochi doping list first reported by The New York Times in May and is competing this season. He finished second in the opening World Cup skeleton race in Whistler, B.C., last weekend.
Dukurs’ brother, Tomass Dukurs, finished fourth in the Sochi race won by Tretiakov.
The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation has heard public calls from Olympic medalists from the U.S., Canada, Latvia and Great Britain that holding worlds in Sochi threatens their safety amid the serious doping allegations about Russia.
While some have threatened boycott, the Latvian skeleton federation is the first organization with a high-profile bobsled or skeleton athlete to say it will definitely boycott if the February event is not moved from Sochi.
The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation said that it will “read and digest” the second part of a World Anti-Doping Agency-commissioned report that was published Friday with “highest priority and urgency.”
From the Latvian skeleton federation on Sunday:
“Enough time has passed since first public WADA and IOC announcements regarding dirty athletes in our sport.
As members of skeleton sport community we feel that more can still be done to make it right.
Now, according to latest reports, we say- enough is enough.
And while our international federation is still going to: “read and digest the report”, we will do what WE can- we will be glad to race in World Championships at any track of the world, but
WE ARE NOT PARTICIPATING in World Championships in Sochi, Russia- a place where Olympic spirit was stolen in 2014.”