MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian court has ruled that doping whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov should be arrested if he returns to his home country.
The ruling could be a step toward Russia demanding the extradition of the former Moscow anti-doping laboratory director, though Russia does not have an extradition treaty with United States, where Rodchenkov fled in January 2016.
Yunona Tsaryova, a spokeswoman for the Basmanny district court in Moscow, told The Associated Press that the court issued an order for Rodchenkov's arrest last week on a charge of "abuse of official powers leading to grave consequences."
The decision was not immediately made public and was first reported Thursday by Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
Rodchenkov says he was ordered by Russian Sports Ministry officials to cover up drug use by leading Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and other major sports events.
His testimony sparked wide-ranging investigations by the World Anti-Doping Agency and International Olympic Committee.
Russian government officials and law enforcement have sought to paint Rodchenkov as an untrustworthy defector who, instead of covering up a doping scheme for the government, was instead the scheme's ringleader.
The Russian Investigative Committee has suggested Rodchenkov is an immoral figure who forced otherwise clean athletes into taking steroids. The government denies it ever supported doping.
Rodchenkov is in witness protection in the United States and has said he left Russia because he feared that he could be killed by the authorities.