Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, giving American law enforcement the ability to prosecute non-U.S. citizens suspected of having a role in doping schemes that impacted the results of international sporting events U.S. athletes participate in.
Despite the bill’s hard-line stance against cheating in sports, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) expressed concerns in November over the efficacy of the bill.
Firstly, WADA believes the Act interferes with the laws other jurisdictions have in place to prevent doping and will likely complicate the necessary cooperation between nations in the pursuit of clean sport. Secondly, WADA worries it will be more difficult to strike deals with whistleblowers as the added layer that dealing with U.S. law enforcement will create will complicate the process of striking “substantial assistance” deals. Thirdly, the Act does not include penalties for American college or professional athletes.
The Act is named after Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory and a key witness to the findings expressed in the 2016 MacLaren Report on a state-sponsored doping scheme in Russia. Rodchenkov is currently in witness protection in the United States.
After President Trump signed the Act, Jim Walden, Rodchenkov’s attorney, stated that the bill gives “the Department of Justice a powerful and unique set of tools to eradicate doping fraud and related criminal activities from international competitions.”
“Now it falls to the Department of Justice to develop a robust programme, cooperating with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and international law enforcement partners, to bring the guilty to justice and create zero tolerance for doping in sports,” said Walden.
The Act received bipartisan support on its way to the President’s desk, as well as support from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). USADA chief Travis Tygart stated that the Act’s passage was a “monumental day in the fight for clean sport worldwide.”
Penalties for violating the law are severe, including up to 10 years in prison and fines of $250,000 dollars for individuals and $1 million for organizations. However, it seems unlikely the United States will begin asking other nations to extradite athletes found guilty of doping. Even so, the Act creates an intimidation factor if an athlete is formally charged that could keep them at home and away from international competitions for fear of being apprehended by U.S. officials. This extends especially to the 2028 Olympic & Paralympic Games that are set to be held in Los Angeles.
For further coverage of the Rodchenkov Act, check out the following articles:
- WADA Expreses Concerns Over U.S. Bill “RADA”, Which Would Criminalize Doping
- WADA I&I Audit Calls for 3 New Employees, Raises Concerns About Rodchenkov Act