Defending champion and Olympic silver medallist Martins Dukurs is among those set to miss the 2017 World Championships ©Getty Images

Latvia, home of the Olympic silver medallist Martins Dukurs, has officially withdrawn from February's International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World Championships in Sochi following evidence of state-sponsored Russian doping.

The move, which follows boycott calls from British Olympic skeleton champion Lizzy Yarnold and athletes from the United States, marks the first country to officially pull-out of the event due to take place at the Sanki Sliding Centre from February 13 to 26.

As well as 2015 and 2016 world champion Martins - considered the leading men's skeleton slider in the sport - his elder brother Tomass was also the world bronze medallist in 2015.

It appears only the skeleton team have definitely withdrawn so far - with the participation of bobsleigh team members not currently clear.

Oskars Melbārdis, Daumants Dreiškens, Arvis Vilkaste and Jānis Strenga are also the reigning four-man bobsleigh world champions.

Latvia duly finished second on the medals table behind Germany at this year's event in Igls.

Today's skeleton decision comes after last week's McLaren Report produced damning evidence of a doping manipulation scheme in which more than 1,000 Russian athletes are thought to have been implicated at events including the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

"Enough time has passed since first public World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) announcements regarding dirty athletes in our sport," the Latvian Skeleton Federation said in a statement today.

"As members of skeleton sport community we feel that more can still be done to make it right.

"Now, according to latest reports, we say - enough is enough.

"And while our International Federation is still going to: 'read and digest the report', we will do what WE can - we will be glad to race in World Championships at any track of the world.

"But WE ARE NOT PARTICIPATING in World Championships in Sochi, Russia - a place where Olympic spirit was stolen in 2014."

A #weboycott hashtag was unveiled alongside the Latvian statement today ©Latvia Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation
A #weboycott hashtag was unveiled alongside the Latvian statement today ©Latvia Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation

Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of the Moscow Laboratory who has since left Russia and worked with McLaren investigators to expose wrongdoing, told the New York Times in May that those whose samples were illegally manipulated at Sochi 2014 included sliders Alexander Zubkov and Alexander Tretiakov.

Zubkov claimed two and four-man bobsleigh titles at his home Games and has since been elected head of the Russian Bobsleigh Federation.

Tretiakov enjoyed a surprise home win over Martins Dukurs in the men's skeleton competition.

Both deny wrongdoing and neither have been publicly confirmed as being implicated - although the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) are thought to have been told the names of all involved.

No decision has yet been made by the IBSF about moving the Championships and no timeframe has been given for one being made.

In a statement on Friday (December 9), the IBSF said they "deplore any action that attacks the values of sport and of clean athletes".

They added: "The Executive Committee decided to act promptly and decisively following the publication of the final McLaren Report.

"Therefore the IBSF will need to read and digest the report, the Independent Persons Evidence Disclosure Package and gain IBSF-specific information from WADA. 

"Highest priority and urgency is given by the Executive Committee to this matter.

"Once all information has been collected and evaluated the IBSF will report on actions related to the McLaren Report."

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) suggested winter IFs "freeze" their preparations for all events in Russia in July before publicly extending this recommendation last week.

But IOC President Thomas Bach appeared to suggest last week that the event will stay there.

"I’m not only confident but I’m sure that the IBSF together with WADA will do everything to ensure their reliable and compliant anti-doping programme during this Championship so the athletes then can have confidence," he said.

Latvia are also the four-man bobsleigh defending world champions ©Getty Images
Latvia are also the four-man bobsleigh defending world champions ©Getty Images

It is thought a move away from Sochi would place significant financial pressure on the IBSF.

Britain's Yarnold has said that she is considering boycotting the Russian event if it is not moved while members of US Bobsled and Skeleton’s Athlete Advisory Committee voting unanimously in favour of withdrawing last week.

Russian deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko has claimed "external pressure" is behind the boycott calls.

Dainis Dukurs, the coach of Martins and Tomas and the coach of the Latvian skeleton team, told today how they decided that they "do not want to be with those who are engaged in such [doping] activities".

"There must be some action," he said.

The stance of other powerful nations - like Germany, Canada and Austria as well as the US and Britain - could now be key.

insidethegames has asked the IBSF for a comment on Latvia's withdrawal.