Russia will lose the hosting rights for the 2021 World Championships ©IBU

Russia will lose the hosting rights for the 2021 International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Championships in Tyumen, insidethegames has learned.

The country has been given until February 24 to return the event to the worldwide governing body or the IBU will “annul” the awarding of the competition to the Russian city.

The decision was taken following an Executive Board meeting, held after an Extraordinary Congress, prior to this year's World Championships, which begin in Hochfilzen in Austria tomorrow.

A replacement host city for the event will be chosen at the 2018 IBU Congress in Porec in Croatia.

During the Extraordinary Congress, the IBU rejected a proposal to extend doping bans to a period of up to eight years.

Financial sanctions on Member Federations whose athletes are convicted of a doping offence were increased, however.

They could now be fined up to €1 million (£854,000/$1.1 million).

The Congress voted on the proposals raised in a letter signed by 170 biathletes, which called for the IBU to take "resolute action" against doping in the sport after the publication of the McLaren Report.

The athletes also urged the IBU to restrict "seasonal start quotas at World Cup, World Championship, and Olympic Winter Games competitions for Member Federations with one or more athlete anti-doping offences".

A working group will now be established to look at implementing this rule, which could limit athletes' participation at major events if their country has had more than one doping violation, for the 2017 to 2018 season.

"The Executive Board invites the Russian Biathlon Union (RBU) to return the IBU World Championships 2021 until February 24, 2017," the decision read.

"Otherwise the Executive Board has decided to annul the award of the IBU World Championships 2021 to Tyumen, Russia."

Russia effectively being stripped of the 2021 World Championships has already been criticised by the RBU.

RBU President Alexander Kravtsov told Russian news agency TASS that they would appeal the decision and that they were "absolutely against giving back the World Championships".

Kravtsov's comments imply the IBU will be forced to take the event away from Tyumen.

"In case the RBU refuses to give up the Championship, the IBU will resort to unilateral actions," he said.

"We will think about filing a lawsuit."

The Extraordinary Congress took place prior to the start of this year's World Championships in Hochfilzen ©Getty Images
The Extraordinary Congress took place prior to the start of this year's World Championships in Hochfilzen ©Getty Images

On the other issues presented at the Extraordinary Congress, the IBU added: "The Congress supported the athletes’ initiative for have stronger Anti-Doping Rules and harsher disciplinary sanctions on member federations, duly taking note of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) letter of January 27, 2017.

"Prior to voting on the eight-year ban proposal, delegates received a WADA-issued letter from January 27, 2017, stating that “in order to comply with the mandatory requirements of the Code, IBU cannot amend its Anti-Doping Rules in a manner that would permit imposing sanctions that are stricter than those foreseen by the Code”.

"Based on this recommendation, the Congress rejected the proposal on an eight-year ban to avoid non-compliance with the WADA Code."

The vote of the IBU to award the Championships at last year's Congress in Chisinau sparked controversy following the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board’s recommendation that Winter Federations "freeze preparations" for any major event in Russia and "seek alternative hosts".

This was made in the wake of the first part of the WADA-commissioned McLaren Report.

The IOC then backtracked on this stance, telling Winter Federations the ruling only applied to future candidacies from Russia and not bid processes which had already started or events which had previously been awarded to the country.

The IBU came under intense pressure to strip Tyumen of the event in the wake of the allegations of state-sponsored doping in the nation, uncovered in the McLaren Report, although President Anders Bessberg remained casual on the matter, insisting they had plenty of time to resolve the issue.

It led to the RBU giving up hosting rights for a World Cup event in Tyumen and the IBU World Junior Championships, which have been moved to Osrblie in Slovakia.

The host of the 2021 World Championships will be decided at next year's IBU Congress in Porec ©IBU
The host of the 2021 World Championships will be decided at next year's IBU Congress in Porec ©IBU

Giving the Russian city the 2021 World Championships also attracted the attention of the WADA as the decision was a direct violation of their code, of which they are a signatory.

The Code says it is the "responsibility" of the International Federations to "do everything possible to award World Championships only to countries where the Government has ratified, accepted, approved or acceded to the UNESCO Convention, and where the National Olympic Committee, National Paralympic Committee and National Anti-Doping Organisation are in compliance with the Code".

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) has been non-compliant since November 2015.

There were two other bidders in the race for the 2021 event - Nové Město na Moravě in the Czech Republic and Pokljuka in Slovenia - and Tyumen, located 2,500 kilometres east of Moscow, won in the first round with a majority of 25 votes.

WADA then gave the IBU until January to explain the Tyumen decision, before they granted the worldwide governing body extra time to provide the reasons after they took an emergency Executive Board meeting in Antholz into account.

"WADA has noted with satisfaction the decision taken by the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Executive Board to have the Russian Biathlon Union return the 2021 World Championships from the city of Tyumen to the IBU by 24 February 2017," a WADA spokesperson said in a statement sent to insidethegames.

"WADA’s independent Compliance Review Committee will discuss the decision further at its forthcoming March meeting.

"As stated in September 2016, WADA had been surprised to hear of the IBU’s decision to award the 2021 IBU World Championships to Tyumen [given that the National Anti-Doping Organisation in Russia, RUSADA, has been non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code (Code) since November 2015], and, as this was directly a Code-related matter, sought further clarification from the IBU."

RUSADA have today claimed their progress towards potential reinstatement "maintains a stable and positive course" and Russia are set to avoid punishment from the WADA, which could have included being declared non-compliant, as a result of the Executive Board's ruling.

insidethegames understands that even representatives from Russia were unsure of whether they would be able to bid for the 2021 due to RUSADA being non-compliant.

The second part of the McLaren Report revealed 1,000 Russian athletes were implicated in a doping manipulation programme across Summer, Winter, non-Olympic and Paralympic sport between 2011 and 2015.

A formal investigation into the RBU was launched but the IBU dismissed cases against 22 of the 31 Russian biathletes named in the report as having had their samples tampered with due to a perceived lack of evidence.

Olympic silver medallist Yana Romanova and Olga Vilukhina remain provisionally suspended.