Russia, Belarus athletes barred from world championships as more sports take action

Legends Race biathlon festival near Minsk, Belarus
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Athletes from Russia and Belarus are barred from all top-level international skiing, skating and track and field events until further notice, as more sports federations took action Tuesday following International Olympic Committee board recommendations.

The International Skating Union (ISU) said it followed the IOC Executive Board recommendations to bar athletes from those two countries “in order to protect the integrity of ice skating competitions and for the safety of all the participants.”

As things stand, Russia and Belarus will have no representation at the most storied speed skating competition, the annual world allround championships, along with the world sprint championships, that begin Thursday in Norway.

The nations will also miss the world short track speed skating championships in two weeks and the world figure skating championships in three weeks if the sanction is not lifted by then.

The Russian Olympic Committee won the most figure skating medals at last month’s Olympics, including gold and silver in women’s singles and gold in the team event, the latter results pending Kamila Valieva‘s doping case.

Later Tuesday, the International Ski Federation (FIS) announced that no athletes from Russia or Belarus will participate in any of its events through the end of this season.

That includes Alpine skiing’s World Cup, which has three weeks left, and the prestigious Holmenkollen Festival in Norway for cross-country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined that starts Wednesday.

World Athletics, the international governing body for track and field, announced that Russia and Belarus athletes are barred from its competitions “for the foreseeable future.” The world indoor championships are in two weeks in Serbia.

“Anyone who knows me will understand that imposing sanctions on athletes because of the actions of their government goes against the grain,” World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said in a press release. “I have railed against the practice of politicians targeting athletes and sport to make political points when other sectors continue about their business. This is different as governments, business and other international organizations have imposed sanctions and measures against Russia across all sectors. Sport has to step up and join these efforts to end this war and restore peace. We cannot and should not sit this one out.”

FIBA, basketball’s international governing body, also announced an “until further notice” ban on Russia.

The International Tennis Federation banned Russia and Belarus from its major team events this year — the Davis Cup and the Billie Jean King Cup. Russia won both events last year. Players from Russia and Belarus can still compete individually on the ATP and WTA Tours and at Grand Slams, but not under the name or flag of their nations until further notice.

FINA, the international federation for aquatics sports including swimming, diving and water polo, announced that Russia and Belarus athletes can compete strictly as neutral athletes or teams without national symbols, colors, flags and anthems until further notice.

Russian athletes are already banned from competing under the Russian flag at major international competitions into December due to the nation’s doping violations, but they have been able to compete as neutral athletes or under the names of the Russian Olympic Committee or their national federations. The FINA ruling extends to international competitions not already part of the previous sanctions.

The international volleyball federation announced it stripped St. Petersburg, Russia, as host of its men’s world championship this August and September.

On Monday, sports including soccer, ice hockey, curling and rugby announced plans to bar athletes from Russia, and in some cases Belarus.

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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight


Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen

Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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