The IBU is set to implement a full ban on fluor wax ©IBU

The International Biathlon Union (IBU) is set to follow in the International Ski and Snowboard Federation's (FIS) footsteps and implement a full ban on fluor from the 2023-2024 season onwards.

Fluor waxes contain poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) which are artificial chemicals that help to increase the glide on snow by reducing friction as they are hydrophobic and repel moisture.

The IBU initially committed to banning fluor products in 2020 "based on the apparent health risks and environmental concerns".

PFAS has been known to cause a list of adverse impacts in humans including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, and cancer.

They make their way into water supplies when snow melts and also harm plants and animals.

The IBU is collaborating with Bruker, a manufacturer of high-performance scientific instruments, and has established a working group with the FIS to develop a testing method using the Alpha II device.

The device provides testing to ensure fluor-free competitions.

The IBU has conducted tests on the Alpha II with National Federations and industry representatives at 15 events.

Chemicals in fluor wax are known to cause health risks such as cancer and liver damage ©Getty Images
Chemicals in fluor wax are known to cause health risks such as cancer and liver damage ©Getty Images

A full procedure test took place during the World Championships in Östersund while final meetings with technicians and the IBU Athletes' Committee were held at the World Cup final in Oslo before deciding to implement the ban.

More tests and education seminars are planned for NFs, their teams and technicians, and for partners from the industry before the season starts.

The IBU had previously enforced a bit-part ban on fluor.

"The IBU had prohibited possessing, applying, using, selling, giving-out or trading any products containing C8 fluorocarbons/PFOA at all IBU events, in line with EU Regulations, which define the handling of high-carbon fluorine waxes, already in the 2021-2022 season," said an IBU statement.

"This previous ban stated that it is prohibited to produce, sell or use PFOA-products.

"High-carbon fluorine waxes - C8 products - fell under this ban, whilst low chain fluor C6 products were still allowed to be used at IBU events."

In order to implement the ban, the IBU required all National Federations and wax companies accredited for its events to sign a self-declaration.

The governing body then conducted spot checks of materials in use by teams, companies, and individuals at competitions.