Alexander Loginov
© Tiziana Fabi / AFP
Alexander Loginov at the IBU Biathlon World Championship in Rasen-Antholz, Italy. February 15, 2020.
Moscow diplomats and sporting officials have urged Italy to explain why its police barged into the rooms of Russian biathletes mere hours before a world championship event.

The Russian Embassy in Rome demanded that Italy explain the reasons behind police searches conducted in the hotel rooms of Russian athletes on Saturday. The diplomats urged local authorities to guarantee all "necessary conditions" for Russians to train and participate in international tournaments in the country.

Moscow's Olympic Committee (OKR) asked its Italian counterpart and the International Biathlon Union (IBU) to explain the situation in detail, querying whether Italian police had any grounds or authority to carry out the searches. The OKR called the whole incident "extremely concerning."

Officers unexpectedly raided the rooms of biathletes Alexander Loginov and Evgeny Garanichev, as well as Loginov's coach Alexander Kasperovich, just hours before the race in Rasen-Antholz in South Tyrol, where the Biathlon World Championship is taking place. Police said they were following up on a tip about the possible use of doping.

Loginov was banned from tournaments after testing positive for doping in 2013. His disqualification ended in 2016. The 28-year-old won a gold medal after finishing first in a 10km race last week. Loginov is still set to participate in the relay on Saturday.

Loginov is still set to participate in the relay. Retired Olympic bobsledder and European champion Aleksandr Zubkov told RT that he believes the biathlete will achieve a good result despite having received nerve-racking news earlier. Loginov is a "hardened, professional athlete who will do everything he can and show how well prepared he is," Zubkov said.

Cross-country skier Aleksey Petukhov, who took home the bronze medal at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, explained that additional stress can take a toll on performance. However, "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger," he said, "so I hope that our boys remain strong and mobilize themselves" for the race.