11:43 GMT20 February 2020
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    The news that the US Justice Department is looking into allegations of doping by Russian athletes is the latest example of American law enforcement reaching beyond US borders to target corruption.

    "A noble effort, experts say, that nonetheless opens the country up to criticism about trying to serve as the world’s prosecutor," an article in The Washington Post read.

    The probe is currently in its early stage and it is "possible – perhaps even likely," that it will lead to nowhere, according to the article.

    "It’s part of our culture of wanting to bring democracy and transparency to the world," Andrew B. Spalding, a law professor at the University of Richmond told the newspaper. "We really stretch jurisdictional principles. Whether we should be doing that is an open question."

    Separate from the Justice Department, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that dozens of former Olympic athletes may be banned from the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio due to probes launched after the Russian doping scandal.

    Moreover, Russian officials said they support excluding from the Olympic Games those athletes who had used performance-enhancing drugs in competition. But they underscored that they were bewildered by US actions.

    "They [US authorities] are willing to stretch the concepts in order to go after what they truly believe to be illegal conduct that needs to be ferreted out and ended. […] The Justice Department has become very interested in foreign matters, much more so than I think is warranted, because there’s plenty of crime here for them to bust," criminal defense lawyer M. Scott Peeler said.

    US media reported this month, citing former director of the Russia-based anti-doping laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov, that dozens of Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, including at least 15 medal winners and the entire women’s hockey team, were doping throughout the Games.
    The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has launched a probe into the claims.

    The Russian Sports Ministry has expressed readiness to assist WADA in its investigation.

    Recently, Craig Reedie, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), sent a letter to Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, calling to guarantee that independent drug testers have access to athletes in closed cities.

    A closed city is a settlement in Russia where travel or residency restrictions are applied so that specific authorization is required to visit.

    According to an article in The Times, the letter came after a German representative of WADA was banned by FSB officers from testing an athlete in the closed city of Tryokhgorny.

    In an interview with The Times, Reedie said that changes in the Russia anti-doping system are going too slow.

    However, the question remains open why WADA wants from Russia guaranteed access to closed cities where military facilities or secret research installations are often located. On the one hand, this may be just part of a regular procedure of the agency. On the other hand, the involvement of the US Justice Department into the probe opens the way for espionage speculations, for instance.


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    sports, doping, investigation, International Olympic Committee (IOC), WADA, Justice Department, Vitaly Mutko, Russia, United States
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