Russia’s foreign minister thinks USA may ‘kidnap’ athletes punished by new rules

A new law aimed at punishing doping offenders could be used to kidnap athletes and take them to the US, Russia’s foreign minister has warned.

Donald Trump signed the Rodchenkov Act last December, which grants the US the ability to prosecute athletes found to be doping at international events that involve American athletes, broadcasters or sponsors.

The law allows officials to potentially fine athletes up to $1 million or grant jail sentences of up to 10 years, and it was described by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as ‘unilaterally exerting US criminal jurisdiction over all global doping activity’.

While the body warned the new legislation could jeopardise clean sport and partnerships between nations, the law still passed through congress.

Russian sports minister Oleg Matysin suggested the US had simply decided to be a judge, while foreign minister Sergei Lovrov reiterated Russia’s desire to oppose the law – and warned how it could affect the global sports community.

“I do not exclude that, just as the Americans kidnap those whom they suspect of something around the world and simply take them to their territory illegally, similar methods will be used to punish athletes who have passed a positive test whom the Americans consider a threat to their interests in international competitions,” Lavrov suggested in a meeting with sporting leaders from the Sverdlovsk region, according to RIA.

“We are taking all the necessary measures in the international arena to provide diplomatic and legal support to Russian athletes, coaches – everyone involved in the preparation of our national teams.

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“We are trying to stop any arbitrariness in relation to our athletes, including from decisions that are trying to impose around the world far beyond national jurisdictions.”

The legislation is named after Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia’s doping laboratory in Moscow where he suggested a sweeping undercover state-run campaign was helping athletes cheat and keep it under wraps from officials.

Russia since denied that there ever was such a state-sponsored campaign, but Rodchenkov fled to the US in 2016 and was later charged with orchestrating an illegal doping scheme by Russian officials.

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His allegations led to Russian athletes being banned from several major international sporting events.

Back in February, United States Anti-Doping Agency boss Travis Tygart declared doping offenders could expect similar treatment to FIFA officials involved in the money laundering and bribery scandal when dozens were fired, fined or imprisoned.

He believes it all comes down to broadcast deals, and implied that channels like NBC have not necessarily received a fair return on their investment in Olympic coverage.

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