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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association Decides to Move 2017 World Championship From Sochi
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The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association (IBSA), the organizer of a world championship bobsled and skeleton event due to take place in Sochi in February 2017, has decided to pull the event from Russia due to a potential boycott by countries and athletes concerned over Russian doping, the New York Times and Gazeta reported.

The IBSA will announce a new venue for their event in a few days. Russia has said it will not boycott the relocated event.

Gazeta asked what other events might be boycotted; the IBSA move is the first decision of an international federation to withdraw a tournament from Russia following the doping scandals in the past year. Last Friday saw the release of Part II the World Anti-Doping Association's McClaren Independent Investigation Report, which determined that the doping system was "centralized" in Russia.

More than 1,000 athletes across different sports were said to have been involved in, or benefited from doping.

The New York Times reported that athletes had other concerns, such as the hacking of their medical reports earlier this year.

Gazeta said that Russian athletes had hoped that bans would not be applied to future sports events. Just yesterday, December 13, Vitaly Mutko, vice premier for sports, said "nothing threatened" the bobsled tournament in Sochi.

Russia is slated to host the World Cup in soccer but according to some media reports, FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) has been quietly holding talks with Qatar, scheduled to be the 2022 host, about the possibility of hosting in 2018 instead of Russia.

For Russia, the main point of the World Cup is not even the new stadiums but the infrastructure for cities -- roads, air ports, hotels, says Gazeta. This means an opportunity for lucrative contracts.

President Vladimir Putin awarded contracts for the Sochi Olympics to his closest cronies among the oligarchs, spending more than $50 billion.

Gazeta believes that the Kremlin will not mind much if the World Cup is canceled because it can pose as a victim of "politicized" actions by the West. Aside from the Olympics and some soccer games, says Gazeta, Russians do not attend sports events of various types in large numbers. The 2016  Ice Hockey World Championship lost money, even though hockey is likely Russia's most popular sport.

What's not likely, says Gazeta, is that Russia will own up to its wrongs and correct them.

 -- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick