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Rodchenkov Act Moves Forward After Approval from US Senate

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A doping control official attends a hockey game at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

By Liam Morgan |

A bill which gives United States officials the power to prosecute individuals for doping schemes at international sports competitions involving American athletes has been approved by the Senate.

The Rodchenkov Act – named after Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, who exposed the country’s doping scandal in 2016 – received unanimous backing from the Senate after being passed by the House of Representatives in 2019.

It requires the signature of the US President to become law.

The bill, which could enable fines of up to $1 million and prison sentences of up to 10 years for doping conspirators at events involving US athletes, broadcasters and sponsors, has been a source of constant friction between the US and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Individual athletes who get caught doping would not be subject to punishment under the law.

WADA has frequently outlined its opposition to the act, which it claims represents “extra-territorial” jurisdiction from the US and could have “unintended consequences” for anti-doping worldwide.

Officials from the global watchdog have cited the fact that it does not cover professional athletes in the US in sports such as baseball, basketball and ice hockey as a concern.

The law has also been opposed by the International Olympic Committee.

United States Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart claims, however, that the Rodchenkov Act “provides the tools needed to protect clean athletes and hold accountable international doping conspiracies that defraud sport, sponsors and that harm athletes”.

“The Act establishes criminal penalties for systems that carry out doping-fraud schemes that rob athletes, citizens and businesses,” Tygart added. 

“It also protects whistleblowers from retaliation and provides restitution for athletes defrauded by conspiracies to dope. 

“It is a monumental day in the fight for clean sport worldwide and we look forward to seeing the Act soon become law and help change the game for clean athletes for the good.”

The Act has been part of a dispute between the US and WADA, which led to the country threatening to pull its funding from the organisation.

The US has accused WADA of actively lobbying against the bill, claiming the body has been interfering in the sovereignty of a member nation.

Anthony Jones, who represented the US Office of National Drug Control Policy in place of director James Carroll during the WADA Foundation Board meeting last week, said WADA should drop its opposition as it was “fighting a losing battle” as the bill has “broad bipartisan support”.

“WADA’s continued opposition is likely to harm the relationship with both Congress and the White House,” Jones warned.

In response, WADA director general Olivier Niggli said the organisation “has probably lost the battle, but it does not mean that the concerns with the bill don’t remain”.

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.

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