The United States guides an anti-doping bill

November 18, 2020

(CNN) — The next time an athlete and their entourage think about doping, they could end up in a United States jail.

It’s a scenario that came closer to reality earlier this week after the United States Senate passed a bill that has been heralded as a new dawn in the fight against doping in sport.

The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act (RADA), which was passed unopposed in the Senate on Monday and now only requires presidential approval before becoming law, would impose criminal penalties on people involved in doping at major international sports competitions that feature American athletes, sponsors and announcers.

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Named after whistleblower Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, who was instrumental in exposing the Russian doping scandal, the law addresses the entourage of a sports star (coaches, doctors, agents and officials), as well as the own athletes.

Penalties for violating the proposed anti-doping law include up to 10 years in prison and fines of $ 250,000 for individuals and $ 1 million for organizations.

As FIFA itself, the highest governing body in world soccer, experienced in 2015, when the US judicial system decides to prosecute a case, the consequences can be far-reaching.

The Lance Armstrong doping scandal 3:19

“Unfortunately, with current anti-doping rule enforcement mechanisms, there are no real teeth … what clean athletes really need is a tooth compliance mechanism,” Jim Walden, Dr. Rodchenkov’s attorney, told CNN. also wrote the RADA.

“There is nothing that deters criminal behavior more than the threat of imprisonment. And for the doctors, trainers, state actors who engage in this behavior after the law is enacted, they run the risk of being secretly prosecuted and that once they get on a plane, a red notice will go off.

«They will be arrested and extradited to the United States. And I believe that deterrence will have an immediate and positive impact on reducing doping fraud worldwide. ‘

Travis Tygart, executive director of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), welcomed the passage of the bill in the Senate as a “monumental day in the fight for fair sport,” also noting that it protects whistleblowers. Tygart has welcomed the steps that would be taken through RADA.

The never-ending story of doping 1:01

The bill has also come under fire

“Not only in the context of this document, but in general, we are extremely critical of any attempt by the United States to extend its jurisdiction to other countries. “This kind of cross-border practice does not sit well with us, we do not agree with it, and of course this causes nothing but concern,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

Last December, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) unanimously agreed to ban Russia from major international sports competitions, including the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup, for four years for doping violations.

Russia is appealing the decision, and President Vladimir Putin called it “unfair.”

WADA punishes Russia for doping scandal 2:41

In a statement Tuesday, WADA criticized the law, saying it fears the proposed measures “will alter the global anti-doping legal framework” and “undermine the fight against doping around the world. No nation has asserted its criminal jurisdiction over doping crimes that occurred outside its national borders, and for good reason.

It is likely to lead to overlapping laws in different jurisdictions that will compromise having a single set of anti-doping rules for all sports and all anti-doping organizations under the World Anti-Doping Code.

He also questioned why the legislation originally included professional and college leagues in the US, only for those areas that will later be excluded from the law.

“Nearly half a million athletes compete in US college sports and thousands more in professional leagues… Why are those around athletes in these associations and leagues now exempted from the scope of this legislation?” said WADA President Witold Bańka.

“If it’s not good enough for American sports, why is it imposing itself on the rest of the world?”

Walden, however, said he is confident the Act will create an “international system of cooperation” when it comes to doping, while noting that covering US national sport would be unnecessary given current laws.

“There are narcotics laws, there are conspiracy laws, there are fraud laws, they can and should all be used to combat doping fraud,” he said.

“For RADA, the provisions that dealt with purely domestic conduct in the United States were redundant; we already have the tools, “added Walden, refuting WADA’s criticism of American sports.

“What prosecutors need to do in the United States is enforce those rules to help combat internal problems as well. Nor should it escape anyone’s understanding that if there is a plan by the United States to take drugs during an international competition, the people responsible for that doping plan are as guilty under the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act as any foreign actor.

In a statement to CNN, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) underscored the legislation’s emphasis on an athlete’s environment.

“Past history in the fight against doping has seen a recurring pattern of networks around the athletes involved in the majority of doping cases,” said an IOC spokesman.

“The athletes themselves already face sanctions, with long-term suspensions under the terms of the World Anti-Doping Code.

“We need to apply the same strict sanctions to members of their entourage, and in this sense this legislation will be useful.”

CNN’s Martijn Edelman and Mary Ilyushina contributed to this report.