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  • U.S. Aims to Criminalize Doping Violations


    06/12/18

    (ATR) A bill introduced in the U.S. Congress will make it a criminal violation to commit a doping rule violation in competition featuring American athletes and companies that sponsor international events.

    Grigory Rodchenkov (Wikimedia Commons)
    The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act was introduced by two Congressmen in the U.S. House of Representatives to establish “civil remedies and criminal penalties for doping fraud crimes”. The bill was introduced by the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.

    The bill was named after Grigory Rodchenkov, the whistleblower at the center of the ongoing Russian doping scandal. Rodchenkov was the former director of the Moscow anti-doping lab, who helped engineer the scheme to tamper with samples at the Sochi Olympics to cover up doping in Russian athletes.

    “International competitions should be the pinnacle of human physical achievement—a chance for those who have trained harder than anyone to go head-to-head and demonstrate their skills to the whole world,” Representative Michael Burgess, from Texas, said in a statement about the bill’s introduction.

    “There should not be an opportunity for states to engage in misconduct. Athletes who compete honestly must not have victory seized from them by an opponent who has used performance-enhancing drugs.”

    The act will “establish criminal penalties” for knowingly using and distributing performance enhancing drugs. It will also establish a “private civil right of action for doping fraud” in the United States for athletes and corporations seeking recourse in civil court cases.

    Whistleblowers that expose doping schemes will also be protected under the act. Currently, Rodchenkov is in hiding in the U.S. under protection of the Justice Department. Finally, the act aims to “empower the U.S. Attorney General to develop regulations by which the U.S. Department of Justice will help private litigants to obtain foreign evidence”.

    The United States joins countries such as Germany, France, Kenya, and Spain in criminalizing doping cases. However, laws in those countries and others only criminalize doping violations during competition within their borders.

    The bill introduced to Congress would use existing American law to set penalties at up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 fines for individuals. Statute of limitations for violations would be up to seven years for criminal investigations and 10 years for civil lawsuits.

    “The unprecedented level of doping [Rodchenkov] exposed at the Olympics, where American athletes compete and U.S. companies are sponsors, demonstrates how countries engaging in clean sport are being defrauded by criminals,” Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, from Texas and co-sponsor on the bid, said in a statement. “In particular, athletes’ livelihoods suffer when prize money and sponsorships are awarded to cheaters.”

    Written by Aaron Bauer

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