Swedes Report Receiving Threats Sent From Russia

Swedish biathletes have received e-mailed threats believed to have been sent from Russia, the team's coach said Wednesday at the world championships.

Athletes Mattias Nilsson and Bjorn Ferry began receiving the threats after the World Cup events at Antholz-Anterselva in January, head coach Staffan Eklund told The Associated Press.

Eklund said he believed the threats were a backlash against Sweden's anti-doping stance.

The team believes the messages were sent from Russia because the e-mail addresses ended in Russian .ru domain names.

The e-mails did not specifically mention doping but contained threats such as "We're going to kick your ..." and "I hope you die of cancer," Ekland said.

"It's below the level of what I think is moral," the coach said, adding he believed the e-mails did not come from fellow athletes but from angry fans.

The Swedish team is gathering the e-mails to present them to the International Biathlon Union's executive board, Ekland said.

The IBU is set to discuss the matter at a previously arranged executive meeting on Friday, said Peer Lange, the IBU communications director.

"We will not leave the team alone with this problem," Lange told The Associated Press.

World champion Yekaterina Iourieva and fellow Russians Albina Akhatova and Dmitri Yaroshenko were barred from the world championships in Pyeongchang after testing positive for banned substances earlier this season. International Biathlon Union president Anders Besseberg said the Russians were involved in "systematic" doping.

The three Russians risk two-year bans that could rule them out of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Nilsson wrote about the Russian doping on his Web site under the heading "Idiots."

"Why is one not surprised? And the others will continue as though they know nothing about it," Nilsson wrote, apparently referring to the rest of the Russian team. His blog post was reported in the Norwegian and Swedish media.

The Swedish athletes are taking the threats in stride, Ekland said.

"In the end, I think it's important not to show if you're afraid," he said. "Because then these persons will maybe do more. But you can't just leave the threat alone."

The Swedish team has not talked of boycotting the season's final race in the Russian resort of Khanty-Mansiysk, Ekland said, but wants security guarantees.

"It's really important for our team to go there because of all those Nation Cup points and in the end we can earn more starting places for next year if we're good enough," he said. "I think it's a big risk if we don't go there, for our team."