CR Biathlon Championship (supersprint), March 23, 2022 in Jablonec nad Nisou. Michal Krčmář during shooting.
Oberhof (Germany) – President of the Czech Biathlon Union Jiří Hamza and representative Michal Krčmář reject the return of Russian or Belarusian athletes to international competitions. In an interview with the Czech media, they expressed disapproval of the statement of former star Martin Fourcade, who would support the participation of Russians and Belarusians in the 2024 Olympic Games in neutral colors. The innkeeper understands the French competitor that he wanted to stand up for the athletes who are afraid to limit themselves because of the war in Ukraine, but he and Hamza continue to call for the enforcement of the current restrictions.
“From my point of view, it is absolutely no comment. We had a meeting on Monday and were surprised by what came out. I take it as Martin expressed himself as a representative of the athletes in the Olympic Committee, and I absolutely do not agree with it. I was terribly surprised in in the negative sense of the word. It goes against the policy we set as the IBU,” said Hamza, who is vice-president of the International Biathlon Union (IBU).
The Krčmář has the same opinion. “At this moment there is no room for any benevolence. If the Russians can be tough in this approach, then we must be able to be tough in the opposite as well,” said the Olympic silver medalist from Pyeongchang. If he sees a certain effort from the Russian side or finds that the sports world wants to go a different way, he is willing to look for options. But that doesn't happen. “On the contrary, there are a lot of Russian athletes who don't mind and who take the side that it is the right thing,” said Krčmář.
But he does not condemn Fourcade for his attitude. According to him, the five-time Olympic champion and seven-time World Cup winner wanted to stand up for Russian athletes who are afraid to express their opinion. “I have known Martin over the years and I know what kind of person he is. I can understand who he is fighting for. I think he is fighting for people who are afraid to come out with an opinion. Not one hundred percent of Russia agrees with this and everyone should not be put in the same bag ,” said the Krčmář.
He also gave the Ukrainian Dmitriy Pidruchny as an example, who after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine received a lot of supportive messages from Russian athletes. But they are afraid to express themselves in public. “I think Martin is alluding to this. I wouldn't see it as a red rag for everyone to fall on Martin. But on the other hand, there is no room for concessions to be made yet,” stated Krčmář.
Fourcade in the past he fought hard against doping, because of which he also got into a dispute with Russian biathletes. At the 2017 World Cup, he refused to shake the hand of Alexander Loginov, who at the time had expired for using the substance EPO.
“I saw Martin here a few days ago and I think he's not here anymore. I'd like to ask him about it. It's his opinion and of course we can't deny it, but I think it's wrong,” said Hamza.< /p>
According to Krčmár, Fourcade, who sits on the IOC Athletes' Commission and chairs the Athletes' Commission at the Organizing Committee of the 2024 Olympics, has reached the position of a diplomat and is looking for a diplomatic solution. “He himself says that he is supposed to defend the rights of all athletes and he does not have this feeling now. That he is neglecting the Russian and Belarusian side. I see this as his diplomatic move. He mentions himself that he is not a pro-Russian propagandist. But I repeat that we must stand behind it , what is now,” Krčmář declared.
According to Hamza, Fourcade's opinion is unique in the biathlon community. “The entire biathlon is consistent in this. If the mayor of Paris says she doesn't want the Russians there, and Martin says yes, then of course it's not good. Even if he's our best athlete, I don't think it's a good signal when we're doing such a double politics. I think it's his position as a member of the athletes' commission, and that's how I take it. But it's not biathlon's position,” Hamza said.
The IBU has excluded Russian and Belarusian competitors from the international competitions of the Biathlon World Cup already in March, a few weeks after the invasion began. The new season also started without them. “Our position is tough and will be tough. This (Fourcade's statement) is certainly not the position of biathlon. We have a strong mandate, where 39 votes out of 45 were for the exclusion of the Russians, and the board has the competence to change it only if something changes on the battlefield. I like Martin, but this seems completely out of line,” added Hamza.