Royal Marine bobsleigh driver John Jackson

"Absolute Joke": Royal Marine John Jackson On Banned Russian Athletes

Royal Marine bobsleigh driver John Jackson

Royal Marine Sergeant John Jackson says it is a "joke" that Russian athletes are being permitted to compete internationally in bobsleigh and skeleton despite an Olympic ban.

The country is banned from February's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, while dozens of athletes have been banned for life by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after a probe into accusations of state-sponsored doping at Sochi 2014.

A number are still competing at skeleton and bobsleigh events where Olympic qualification is at stake, however, with former Great Britain bobsleigher Sgt Jackson (pictured above) saying the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) has been "arguing against itself" in court over the matter.

The 40-year-old, who is in line for a bronze medal from the 2014 Games, alongside team-mates Bruce Tasker, Joel Fearon and Stuart Benson, after the retrospective disqualification of two Russian teams, told BBC Sport:

"A circus is a good clean way of putting it, an absolute joke. Morally I don't think any of the Russians should be sliding because of the IOC ruling."

"Winter sports are not putting up a strong enough fight for clean athletes. They are letting politics away from the sport take over. It is a complete mess."

The IBSF had provisionally banned the athletes from competing, only for this to be reversed by the federation's doping hearing panel on appeal.

Russia's Elena Nikitina won the Skeleton World Cup in Innsbruck last month despite being banned for life for breaching anti-doping rules at Sochi 2014

The federation then took the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which on Thursday said it "did not have the jurisdiction" - leaving the athletes free to compete. Sgt Jackson said:

"It makes the IBSF look really weak and vulnerable that it is arguing against itself."

"Two elements fighting against each other and taking each other to court must have alarm bells ringing internally."

The International Luge Federation (FIL), meanwhile, is also permitting Russian athletes to continue competing.

The FIL's disciplinary commission decided not to impose sanctions on Tuesday despite Tatyana Ivanova and Albert Demchenko, silver medal-winning lugers at Sochi, being banned by the IOC last month.

It's been a mixed weekend for the forces athletes on the ice track at Altenberg in Germany, meanwhile.

The Army had two representatives in the GB 1 Bobsleigh in round six of the IBSF World Cup.

Joining driver Lamin Deen of the Grenadier Guards was Nick Gleeson of 3 PARA, along with Andrew Matthews and Greg Cackett.

They'd had a disappointing first run on the Altenberg track, nicknamed 'Altencrash' because of its degrees of difficulty. They'd ended the first run one 16th, after a time of 55.02.

They achieved a much-improved performance in the second run, however, with Deen driving brilliantly to claw back almost half a second.

The time of 54.69 was the fifth fastest of all the second runs and boosted Team Deen up to joint-10th. 

The result keeps Deen eighth in the world rankings going into next weekend's round at St Moritz, which will determine Olympic qualification for Pyeongchang.

Above Deen in sixth, however, was a team involving Alexander Kasjanov, Ilvir Huzin and Aleksei Pushkarev, all of whom have had their fourth-placed finishes at Sochi nullified for doping.

Also in action in Altenberg was, the RAF's Rhys Thornbury, who could only finish 16th in his latest Skeleton World Cup race.

He was 2.77 seconds off the pace set by the outstanding athlete this year, Yun Sung-Bin.

The South Korean finished 0.39 seconds ahead of Alexander Treyakov, who has been stripped of his Sochi gold for doping.  

Thornberry, who competes for New Zealand, remains at 16th in the world rankings as a result.  

He'll be hoping for better on the natural track at St Moritz, knowing he needs to keep his performance levels up as he looks ahead to the Winter Olympic Games.

With thanks to the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation for video footage & imagery.

More: Amputee Afghanistan Veteran & Forces Guides In GB Winter Paralympics Squad

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