Moscow court orders arrest in absentia of Russian doping whistleblower

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Moscow court said on Thursday it had issued a warrant for the arrest of Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia's anti-doping laboratory who alleged the existence of a scheme to cover up Russian athletes' positive drug samples at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Yunona Tsareva, a spokeswoman for Moscow's Basmanny Court, told Reuters it had issued a warrant for the arrest in absentia of Rodchenkov, who now resides in the United States. She said the warrant was issued on September 21, without providing further detail. In a 2015 report, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) identified Rodchenkov as an "aider and abettor of the doping activities" and said he had admitted to destroying 1,417 samples at the Moscow anti-doping laboratory ahead of a WADA audit. Rodchenkov last year alleged, after travelling to the United States, that Russia had orchestrated a sophisticated scheme involving the FSB security service at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics to protect its dope cheats by substituting tainted urine samples with clean ones. Russia denied the allegations. Soon after, Russia's Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against Rodchenkov for abuse of office. Russian authorities have vilified Rodchenkov, blaming him for the doping scandals that led to the suspensions of the country's athletics federation, Paralympic committee and anti-doping agency RUSADA. WADA last month called on Russian authorities responsible for anti-doping to publicly accept the findings of the McLaren investigation, which found evidence of widespread doping and manipulation of doping tests by Russian athletes and officials. But public acceptance of the report -- which found that more than 1,000 Russian competitors across more than 30 sports benefited from an institutional conspiracy to cover up positive tests -- would contradict Moscow's denial of the state's alleged role in the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs. (Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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