Germany will host this season’s bobsled and skeleton world championships, which were pulled out of Russia after numerous competitors considered a boycott in response to that nation’s widespread doping program.
Koenigssee was the track selected by the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation for the championships, which will be held Feb. 13-26 — even though some nations felt they could be moved a week earlier. Koenigssee will also host a weekend of World Cup racing in January.
Sochi lost the hosting rights last week in the fallout of the Russian doping scandal. The track at Krasnaya Polyana was used for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren concluded was corrupted by a state-backed doping program.
That led to a number of athletes and teams talking boycott.
“For me personally, I’m just happy that it was moved and we will still get to have a world championships with full participation from all nations,” said U.S. skeleton slider Matt Antoine, who was going to boycott if the event was in Russia as scheduled. “I still want to compete in the world championships. I just wasn’t going to do it in Russia.”
Koenigssee has a history of stepping in as a replacement site. The 2011 World Championships were originally awarded to Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, then moved to Koenigssee two years before the event because of track concerns.
This time, they’re moving with worlds less than two months away — an unprecedented scramble following an unprecedented scandal.
The Russians have said they will not boycott worlds, even going as far as to say that they understood why the IBSF made the decision.
Many athletes cited the integrity of the doping process as their primary concern about competing at the worlds in Russia, especially after the second McLaren report was released showing the depth of the doping program there.
McLaren’s report showed that some Russian gold medalists from the Sochi Games were tainted by doping. Russia won gold medals in two-man bobsled, four-man bobsled and men’s skeleton at the Olympics, though none of the athletes who got those victories has been implicated by any known positive or tampered-with tests.
“We will come and prove that we are able to fight at any championship,” Russian Bobsled Federation president Alexander Zubkov, a winner of two gold medals at the Sochi Games, told reporters from Russia last week.
Park City, Utah, was also under consideration to host.
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