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Russia loses biathlon, speedskating events over doping scheme

Russia has lost speedskating and biathlon events it was due to host this winter following allegations it ran a vast, state-sponsored doping scheme.

World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren's report has prompted Western athletes to campaign for boycotts in several winter sports in Russia after 12 medalists from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi were implicated.

It's not yet clear where the events will be held instead.

The International Skating Union said it was stripping the Russian city of Chelyabinsk of the final round of this season's World Cup because, following McLaren's report, "the focus of the event would not be on the sport but rather accusations and controversies.''

Other concerns included "a substantial amount of critical evidence'' of doping in Russia "and the uncertainty relating to the attendance of the athletes,'' the ISU said.

Russian biathlon officials voluntarily gave up their rights to host a World Cup round in March and the world junior championships, due to start late February. It was "impossible'' to hold the events in the circumstances, the Russian Biathlon Union said.

The International Biathlon Union welcomed the move.

"This is a first important step by the Russian Biathlon Union to show to the IBU and to the world of sport that the current situation is taken very seriously,'' the IBU said in a statement. "This will now allow the international biathlon family to focus on biathlon during these events.''

Russia had previously lost the world bobsled and skeleton championships in the fallout from McLaren's report, which alleged more than 1,000 athletes, including Olympic medalists, had benefited from a state-backed plan to cover up drug use.