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Putin's Spokesman Decries Decision To Move Bobsled Championships From Russia

Russia's bobsledder Sergei Chudinov competes Sochi Winter Olympics, February 15, 2014
Russia's bobsledder Sergei Chudinov competes Sochi Winter Olympics, February 15, 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman criticized a decision to move next year's bobsled and skeleton world championships out of Russia, saying the Kremlin believes it was politically motivated.

The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) announced on December 13 that it was withdrawing the February 13-26 championships from the Russian resort city of Sochi.

The announcement came four days after the release of a new World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report that found that more than 1,000 Russian athletes across 30 sports were involved in or benefited from a state-backed doping program.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow on December 14 that Moscow "regrets" what he called the bobsled federation's "politicized decision" to move the championships out of Russia.

The federation made no specific mention of the growing evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russia. But it said moving the world champions was the only way "to allow athletes and coaches from all nations to participate in a competition that focuses on sport rather than accusations and discussions — whether justified or not."

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on December 14 that it welcomed the decision.

Following the WADA report's release, the Latvian and South Korean bobsled and skeleton teams said they would boycott the championships scheduled for Sochi, and some athletes from other countries also said they would not go.

The new venue for the championship has not been announced.

Based on reporting by RIA, TASS, and dpa

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