Russians threatened family over doping: Czech biathlon chief
Prague, Dec 5 (AFP) Russian officials have intimidated those pointing a finger at their doping affairs in biathlon, going as far as threatening their families, the Czech biathlon chief said Wednesday.
"Some Russian officials threatened us, including my family, they wanted to silence us," said Jiri Hamza, who became the first vice-president of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) after the resignation of former IBU head Anders Besseberg.
"It was a tough period but I'm glad we didn't give up," he told the website of Czech broadsheet Lidove Noviny daily.
Besseberg and IBU general secretary Nicole Resch are facing accusations that they helped cover up Russian doping in the Winter Olympic sport combining cross-country skiing and shooting.
In April, French daily Le Monde quoted a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) saying Russia had "successfully" targeted Besseberg and Resch to buy their silence to cover up doping.
WADA also suggested Russia had offered "between 25,000 and 100,000 euros" to members of a congress handing the 2021 world championships to Tyumen, Russia in 2016.
The IBU eventually stripped Russia of the championships. Besseberg stepped down in April and was replaced by Swede Olle Dahlin in September.
Hamza said the IBU had a long way to go as it was still full of people happy with the "narrow-minded" Besseberg leadership.
"We won't say Russia's influence on biathlon is minimal as Besseberg helped them for such a long time, sweeping all their athletes' problems under the rug," said Hamza.
"But we don't want to take any revenge -- we want a dialogue instead.
"That's the biggest change, because over the past eight years the IBU has been managed by three people and the rest were mere pawns moved by Besseberg and his cronies