MOSCOW (AP) — Russia suspended eight players from its men’s national junior handball team on Tuesday for behavior likened to “treason” after alleging they had been in contact with bookmakers.

The Russian Handball Federation didn’t specify exactly what the players were accused of doing, and didn’t identify any specific games which may have been affected. However, its statement said the board would meet to discuss “the fight against unsporting influence on results.”

Russia placed 15th out of 16 teams at the European under-19 championship last month, when the eight players were all in the squad.

“The facts revealed by the ethics commission not only cause me to feel outrage, but also deep disappointment with our young players. I equate this to treason against the motherland,” RHF president Sergei Shiskaryov said in a statement.

The Russian men’s handball program was once one of the world’s best, winning Olympic gold medals in 2000, but hasn’t placed on the podium at a major tournament since. The women’s team won Olympic gold in 2016 and silver this year.


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