Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
• Athletes, Sports Organizations and Clean Sport Advocates Stand in Support of Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act
In advance of the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on February 5 on Athlete Safety and the Integrity of U.S. Sport, FairSport wishes to highlight the myths and clarify certain facts in response to comments distributed to U.S. lawmakers by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) regarding the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act (RADA). RADA is groundbreaking legislation that would finally criminalize doping fraud and related corruption, protect whistleblowers and provide clean athletes, including American athletes, with recourse when they are robbed of hard-fought victories. It has become abundantly clear that doping fraud in international sports competitions is a powerful mechanism for larger campaigns of state-sponsored political aggression and criminal activity against the United States.
Athletes, and the sports organizations that represent them, understand the need for this legislation as evidenced by the RADA’s long and esteemed list of 45 official endorsers, including: U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), U.S. Olympic & ParalympicCommittee (USOPC), U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Advisory Council, U.S. Biathlon, U.S. Figure Skating, U.S. Sailing, U.S. Ski and Snowboard, U.S. Ski and SnowboardAthletes’ Council, U.S. Speedskating, U.S. Squash, USA Archery, USA Boccia, USA Curling, USADiving, USA Field Hockey, USA Golf, USA Hockey, USA Karate, USA Luge, USA Roller Sports,USA Rugby, USA Softball, USA Surfing, USA Swimming, USA Swimming Athletes’ ExecutiveCommittee, USA Synchro, USA Team Handball, USA Track and Field, USA Track and Field Athletes Advisory Committee, USA Triathlon, USA Volleyball, USA Water Ski & Wake Sports, USA Weightlifting, USA Wrestling, USAPM, Fairsport, Global Athlete, Lakeshore Foundation, LeMond Bicycles, Logan University (HPMO of USA Para Powerlifting), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL), PGA TOUR, Protect Our Youth from Steroids and TRACE International. In addition, RADA currently enjoys the bi-partisan sponsorship of Senators Wicker, Whitehouse, Cardin, Leahy, Gardner, Moran, Blumenthal and Warner, adding to an equally impressive list of sponsors in the House of Representatives.
Jim Walden, a former Assistant United States Attorney and lawyer for Russian whistleblower Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, states, “The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was not popular with corrupt nations but has transformed international law enforcement, promoting wide-ranging, cross- border cooperation to effectively combat business corruption around the world, which safeguards the interests of American companies. RADA will do the same in the fight against doping fraud deployed by gangster states who hijack international sports competitions as powerful vehicles for larger campaigns of political aggression and criminal activity against the United States, including money laundering, bribery, fraud, drug trafficking, racketeering, computer hacking and other kinds of corruption.”
Yet, the IOC and WADA, in which the IOC controls half the board, claim the bill would grant the United States too much authority and could erode the global anti-doping system. In light of the deep-rooted failures of the international sports governance framework, these claims are both unfounded and antithetical to the core mandates of WADA and the IOC.
No organization welcomes change from the outside. WADA’s position within the international sports governance framework creates inherent bias against reforms that embrace athlete’s rights.
Myth 1: Extraterritorial application of RADA will undermine the global anti-doping system.
Fact: Foreign Rodchenkov Act equivalents will be encouraged just as has happened with other, similar extraterritorial laws, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Global Magnitsky Act. They will put legal force behind the fight against doping fraud and strengthen the global anti- doping system through international law enforcement cooperation.
Myth 2: RADA allows for private legal action by cheated athletes.
Fact: It does not.
Myth 3: RADA will have a chilling effect on whistleblowers.
Fact: RADA will make whistleblowers more comfortable with coming forward since they will now enjoy the protections afforded those who are part of a criminal investigation. The key deterrent to whistleblowers coming forward is their fear of retaliation — Putin has made clear his willingness to assassinate people he considers traitors as he did with Alexander Litvinenko and attempted to with Sergei Skripal. He and his surrogates have threatened the lives of Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov and Yuliya and Vitaly Stepanov. WADA’s Intelligence and Investigations division is reportedly suffering from an “acute” lack of resources and has no resources or capacity to keep whistleblowers safe.
Myth 4: WADA has responded well to the Russian doping scandal.
Fact: WADA has failed spectacularly in its reaction to the Russian doping scandal, evidenced most clearly by the fact that we are six years out and still it is the dominating topic of conversation.
In September 2018, in the face of massive outcry from athletes and national anti-doping agencies (NADOs), WADA re-authorized the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) on the basis of their eventually providing the LIMS database from the Moscow Lab. Athletes and NADOs argued this should happen before they were readmitted.
When RUSADA failed to meet these requirements by the December deadline, WADA still failed to suspend Russia. Eventually, the data WADA was able to retrieve was proven to be heavily manipulated, and it was also proven that Russia attempted to frame Dr. Rodchenkov for the scandal through evidence tampering. In the face of this conclusive evidence of very recent tampering, WADA finally made a decision to ban Russia from the upcoming Olympics, but instead of a total ban it chose, again, only a partial ban as in the case of PyeongChang 2018, where Russians competed — and doped yet again.
WADA has shown good faith in working with federations and international bodies to investigate specific instances of corruption and bribery related to the Russian Sports Ministry. It also undertook an important investigation of the LIMS database. However, as a practical matter, WADA has been ineffectual in containing Russia’s brazen doping fraud for decades. WADA is neither equipped nor mandated to address, investigate or prosecute financial crimes in the international banking system, threats of bodily harm to whistleblowers nor other forms of criminal activity related to doping fraud that fall under the purview of law enforcement agencies and courts, as prescribed by RADA.
Myth 5: Passage of RADA will bolster the Russian case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport that they are being ‘politically targeted’.
Fact: RADA is not politically motivated, but rather a reaction to the lack of any real and effective deterrents to doping fraud conspiracies. Russia will likely frame themselves as being politically targeted no matter what the United States does.
Noah Hoffman, U.S. Olympic Cross Country Skier, states, “The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act promises to give athletes like me, who believe that competing ethically is more important than winning, the chance to achieve our dreams. We compete clean because it’s the right thing to do, but too often we’re playing a rigged game. It’s time to level the playing field and ensure that the next generation of American athletes never has their moment stolen from them by the perpetrators of institutionalized doping. American athletes deserve the Rodchenkov Act.”
Robert Koheler, Director General of Global Athlete, the athlete-led movement for change that has pledged its formal support for the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, says, “RADA is an important step forward for athletes’ rights. It adds another layer of protection for athletes. Athletes should never be coerced to dope. That is why it’s important to bring the enablers to justice and protect whistleblowers that come forward that expose corrupt doping practices.”
• This statement was issued via email by FairSport on 4 February 2020.
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