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Russian biathlete Loginov had right to pull out of mass start - sports minister

Oleg Matytsin evaded the question about a political implication of this situation
Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin Sergey Karpukhin/TASS
Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin
© Sergey Karpukhin/TASS

MOSCOW, February 23. /TASS/. Russian biathlete Alexander Loginov had the right to pull out of the mass start race at the 2020 IBU World Championships in Italy’s Antholz, Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin told reporters on Sunday.

"I think that it is unconditionally his right to drop out," he said.

Speaking about how Loginov’s interests will be protected, the minister pointed out that the Russian Biathlon Union is dealing with the issue, alongside the Russian Foreign Ministry and the embassy in Rome.

"Naturally, we provide active support to our athletes," he added.

Matytsin evaded the question about a political implication of this situation.

"I would prefer not to comment since I do not have sufficient information on how much it is political," he said.

"I view with respect, and of course, we are concerned about both Loginov and the whole national team. Naturally, the relationship with the International Federation should be built in such a way so as to avoid any precedents, which unfortunately sometimes happen. That should have a legal basis, first and foremost, as athletes’ interests should be put at the forefront.

On Sunday, Loginov announced he would pull out of the mass start race of the 2020 IBU World Championships. His decision was sparked by the searches carried out by Italian police in his hotel room. Police stormed into the biathlete’s room in early hours on Saturday at the request of the International Biathlon Union (IBU). The search was linked to the fact that Loginov’s coach Alexander Kasperovich was using another person’s accreditation at the world championships.

Loginov was suspended from competitions by the Russian Biathlon Union in 2013 because of a suspicion doping test. The International Biathlon Union rechecked his doping test in 2014 to find erythroietin, a prohibited substance. In July 2015, it was decided to ban him from competitions for a term of two years since the recheck date. The ban expired on November 2016. After he came back in sports, he has been subject of bashing from many leading biathletes.