The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has put out a statement expressing concerns over the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act (RADA), which has recently passed committee in the United States Senate.
The Rodchenkov Act is a bill written in 2019 that would criminalize international doping fraud conspiracies. In essence, the bill aims to impose criminal penalties on dopers and those found to have knowingly assisted in the facilitation of doping activities. Under the bill, punishments could range up to a $1 million fine to 10 years in prison. Proponents of the bill say “RADA arms the United States and victims of this corruption with the legal tools to pursue and punish all actors who were previously untouchable.”
WADA clarifies in their statement that they support the goal of the bill, and encourage governments to use their legislative powers to protect clean athletes. They go on to specifically outline portions of the bill they support, stating “WADA considers positive the proposed measures outlined in the bill to assist anti-doping by facilitating the sharing of information between US law enforcement entities and the United States Anti-Doping Agency and by providing protection to whistleblowers.”
In that statement, WADA is referring to a section of the bill which would make it easier for law enforcement to share information with USADA and outlines protection from punishment for whistleblowers who raise the alarm about doping activities. They support the spirit of that section, although, they do have concerns over the impact that provision will have over their own ability to investigate.
WADA, however, expresses their concerns over certain provisions of the bill, specifically outlining what they believe will be three unintended consequences of the bill in its current form. The first concern WADA outlines is that the bill would create overlap in the anti-doping laws in different jurisdictions, which, in WADA’s words, would “compromise having a single set of rules for all athletes, all sports and all anti-doping organizations that are subject to the World Anti-Doping Code.” WADA says having one set of global anti-doping rules is at the very heart of their mission.
The second unintended consequence in WADA’s opinion has to do with the section regarding protection for whistleblowers. Although WADA has already expressed their support for the added protection of anti-doping whistleblowers in the bill, they believe the bill could actually make it more difficult for whistleblowers to work with both WADA (and other anti-doping agencies) and the United States government. WADA believes by creating multiple jurisdiactions (US jurisdiction versus global anti-doping agencies’ jurisdiction), it will undermine the ability for whistleblowers to take so-called “substantial assistance” deals. Substantial assistance deals are a form of incentive given in criminal drug cases, wherein an informant gives information that helps law enforcement. In exchange, the informant is granted either a reduction in their sentence, or even immunity. WADA’s concern is that if the United States’ jurisdiction has different laws than the anti-doping agencies do, it will compromise the ability of anti-doping agencies to conduct their own investigations effectively.
The third concern WADA outlines is that their could be an “emergence of other extra-territorial jurisdictions worldwide and their misuse for purposes other than anti-doping, for example to discriminate against athletes of specific nationalities.” WADA expresses concerns that agencies potentially discriminating against athletes of specific nationalities would “likely lead to retaliation by stakeholders concerned and set off a chain reaction,” which would have negative consequences on anti-doping measures as a whole, and hurt atheltes from all over the world.
It’s due to these concerns that WADA is attempting to get the Senate to consider altering sections of the bill. RADA passed the U.S. House of Representatives in October of 2019, and last week, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation voted to approve it, sending it to a vote on the floor of the Senate. There’s no real timeline for when the bill will be put to a vote on the floor of the Senate right now, since the current focus is wholly on addressing the Coronavirus. If the Sentate does ultimately vote in favor of the bill, without making alterations to it, it would then go to President Donald Trump, who could sign it into law, or veto it.
To read WADA’s statement from WADA-AMA.org, click here.