South Korea mulls joining Sochi skeleton boycott

Tue Dec 13, 2016 12:27am EST
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By Nataly Pak

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea, host nation of the next Winter Olympics, is considering pulling out of next year's bobsleigh and skeleton world championships in Sochi after Latvia decided to boycott the event in protest at Russian doping.

Skeleton Latvia said on Monday it would be boycotting the Feb. 13-26 event after the publication of the second half of the McLaren Report into Russian doping, which alleged an "institutional conspiracy to conceal positive drug tests".

The Korea Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation (KBSF) said it had yet to make a final decision, and would not do so until their athletes were back in the country on Dec. 19, but were erring toward not going.

"Our tentative decision is not to attend because as Russia was hosting the championship there were several problems with fairness regarding doping," KBSF Secretary General Sung Youn-teak told Reuters on Tuesday.

"Also, other countries are saying that they won't attend. Especially for skeleton, Latvia and some other countries are our competitors but they have said they will not attend.

"So we think that there is no significant meaning for us to win medals without our competitors present."

South Korea are hopeful of some medals on their home track at Pyeongchang in 2018, especially after the bobsleigh pair of Won Yun-jong and Seo Young-woo won the World Cup series earlier this year.

Although the Sochi championships help determine the rankings for the 2018 Games, South Korea are assured of having three bobsleigh and two skeleton entrants as hosts.   Continued...

South Korea's Lee Hansin competes in the men's skeleton event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, at the Sanki Sliding Center in Rosa Khutor February 15, 2014.                 REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch