Russia says U.S. overreaching itself in anti-doping bill

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov listens during Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia on Tuesday rejected what it called a U.S. attempt to extend its jurisdiction beyond its borders, after the U.S. Senate approved a bill allowing U.S. officials to pursue anyone involved in doping at international events involving Americans.

The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, which previously passed the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously, passed the Senate unopposed and now needs the signature of the president to become law.

The bill will enable U.S. justice officials to seek criminal penalties in the United States against those involved in doping at internationl events involving U.S. athletes, sponsors or broadcasters.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow opposed U.S. legislation including the Rodchenkov Act which effectively attempted to extend U.S. jurisdiction beyond its own borders.

“We don’t agree with this practice,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call. “This cannot but cause concern.”

The bill has already divided the anti-doping world.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has expressed concern that the bill, named after whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov who helped expose Russia’s state-sponsored doping, could destabilize global anti-doping efforts while giving U.S. professional and college athletes a free pass.

It questioned why U.S. professional sport leagues and college athletes were removed from the original draft of the bill.

There were also concerns that the bill would impede the capacity to use whistleblowers by exposing them to multiple jurisdictions and preventing “substantial assistance” deals.

But Travis Tygart, the head of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), said the bill would provide a way to protect clean athletes and hold accountable those who carry out doping schemes while protecting whistleblowers from retaliation.

(Reporting by Dmitry Antonov; Additional reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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