Fluor ban: this is how it works

After developing an effective and reliable testing method, the IBU confirmed in March 2023 that it will implement a full ban of ski preparation products containing fluor at all its event series from the 2023/2024 season onwards. It is one of the biggest changes in biathlon in recent history.

The testing protocol - how it works

The flour test protocol will see skis tested before and after each competition and a measuring procedure against pre-determined threshold zones (Green: 0-1, Yellow: 1.1-1.8, Red:1.9 or higher) will be enforced.

  • Pre-competition, should athletes’ skis fall within the red threshold, they will be tested a second time and if they fail the test again will be given a red card and removed from competition. Skis must be delivered to the control station latest 30 minutes before the athlete’s individual start time.

  • Each athlete will have the possibility to change their skis once in the season after a red card in pre-competition testing but a second red card will automatically result in a prohibition to start.

  • Athletes whose skis fall above the post-competition threshold test will be disqualified.

  • In Single Mixed Relay Competitions, athletes can only use one pair of skis. Rewaxing in between changes is not allowed.

Differences between events and competition series

At the BMW IBU World Championships 2024 in Nove Mesto na Morave, in the BMW IBU World Cup, IBU Cup, and the IBU Open European Championships, athletes’ skis will be tested by the Bruker Alpha II device before the start and after the competition.

In the IBU Junior Cup, IBU Youth & Junior World Championships 2024 in Otepaa, Estonia, IBU Junior Open European Championships, Regional Events, Youth Olympic Games, and European Youth Olympic Festival, common waxing will be organised for all the athletes.

The testing device

Working with Bruker, a leading manufacturer of high-performance scientific instruments - while maintaining a close collaboration with the International Ski Federation (FIS) through a joint working group - the IBU has developed an effective testing method using the Alpha II device. The device provides reliable testing to ensure fluor-free biathlon competitions. 

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On-site tests in March 2023

The IBU held joined tests of the device with its NFs and industry representatives at 15 IBU events last winter, as well as three sessions during spring and summer. A complete procedure test was conducted successfully during the BMW IBU World Cup in Oestersund; final meetings with Technicians and the IBU Athletes Committee were held at the World Cup final in Oslo, Norway.

Final preparations (Summer 2023)

During the off-season, the IBU has worked closely with the teams and their technicians to ensure a smooth transition to the full ban.

The Salzburg seminar, in September, was attended by team technicians from 33 NFs and gave them the opportunity to work with the detection device, explore new products and applications, and learn how to optimise cleaning methods. The meeting also included a panel discussion with wax technicians to share the teams’ feedback on the implementation of the testing protocol.

In October, the IBU Technical Committee held its annual meeting in Munich, Germany, to overview the preparations for the upcoming season and discuss the most pressing topics, including the finalisation of the Fluor test protocol.  The IBU committed to banning fluor products used in ski preparation in 2020 - in line with EU Regulations, which define the handling of high-carbon fluorine waxes, already in the 2021/2022 season - based on the apparent health risks and environmental concerns connected to fluorine waxes.

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