As reported on Fasterskier.com yesterday, the IBU Executive Board has voted to discontinue blood testing as part of antidoping efforts at all future Olympic Games.
It is not clear to me what impact this would have on antidoping efforts, as at this point there isn’t very much commentary on why the decision was taken and whether the discontinued tests will be replaced with something else or will be conducted by another organization. I am interested to see the reactions of other IBU member federations, and of the World Anti-doping Agency and the International Olympic Commitee to this announcement.
What is evident is that there is considerable controversy about how the decision was taken. According to the Fasterskier report, the Executive Board did not consult with the IBU Vice President for Medical Issues, and other members of the IBU medical committee were not contacted regarding the decision.
Another thing that can be said about this revelation is that its timing is bound to raise some eyebrows. The sport of biathlon continues to be shamed by athletes who are doping, notably casting a negative light on the sport during the Sochi Olympics. Given these continuing challenges, it seems a strange time to be discontinuing any kind of action that will help in the fight against doping.
Now we wait for the reasons for and implications of this decision become more clear. As part of this process the biggest question I would like to see answered is this: how does this decision improve the IBU’s ability to combat doping in the sport of biathlon?