20th December 2018

Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act introduced in the US Senate

The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act (RADA) has been introduced into the US Senate, after being introduced to the US House of Representatives in June this year. The Act (PDF below) would establish criminal penalties for defrauding international sporting competitions through doping schemes. The Act was introduced by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Orrin Hatch yesterday, and applies to international but not domestic sporting competitions.

Under the Act, penalties would include fines up to US$1 million or imprisonment for ten years, depending on the offence. It would also provide mandatory restitution to athletes and others that have been affected by international doping conspiracies. It is also designed to protect whistleblowers such as Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov (pictured), the former Director of the Moscow and Sochi 2014 Laboratories, who played a crucial role in highlighting Russian State doping, and will facilitate sharing of information with the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

Senators Whitehouse and Hatch were scathing about the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) 20 September decision to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA). ‘In 2016, Dr. Rodchenkov exposed the Russian state-sponsored doping scandal that took place during the 2014 Sochi Olympics’, read a statement from Whitehouse and Hatch. ‘By deceiving international anti-doping authorities and swapping athletes’ samples, Russian officials cheated U.S. athletes out of Olympic glory and U.S. corporations out of honest sponsorships. These corrupt officials used bribes and illicit payments, sometimes through U.S. financial institutions, to commit this fraud. Unfortunately, the masterminds behind the Russian sports doping operation escaped punishment for their actions because there was no U.S. legal mechanism to bring them to justice. With the recent decision of the World Anti-Doping Agency to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, the matter now appears closed at the international level with no meaningful consequences for the Russian regime or the officials who perpetrated the scheme.’

In October, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) indicted seven officers of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). In the words of John C. Demers, US Assistant Attorney General for National Security, the indictment alleges that the GRU launched its attacks “in response to the efforts of anti-doping officials’ exposure of Russia’s systematic and state-backed athlete doping program. Embarrassed by that truth, Russia fought back by retaliating against the truth tellers and against the truth itself.”

“For too long, internationally agreed upon anti-doping rules have been broken with impunity”, said Senator Hatch in yesterday’s statement. “Athletes have been defrauded by coordinated, and in some cases state-sponsored, doping fraud schemes that call into question the integrity and fairness central to all competitions. This bill is a long overdue step to deter and punish individuals and state actors who would attempt to defraud international competitions through doping.”

“USADA welcomes the introduction of The Rodchenkov Act today”, read a statement from USADA CEO Travis Tygart. “We believe this is a game-changing Bill that will transform anti-doping for the better and forever at a time when the clean sport movement needs it most; given the recent unprecedented athlete outcry against the anti-doping status quo, this Bill is arriving just in the nick of time. This Bill is part of the overall recognition that doping is fraud, and when it’s done by organizations and institutions – whether that be by a sport or an entire nation – it’s going to be put on the same level as other types of fraud. All of those who value fair play and clean athletes rights should welcome this legislation and support its immediate passage.”

Under US legislative procedure, a member of the House of Representatives sponsors a Bill, which is then assigned to a committee for study. If released by the committee, the Bill is then voted on, debated or amended. If it passes by a simple majority in the House of Representatives, it then moves to the Senate, where it undergoes a similar process. After this, a conference comprising both Houses works out any differences, and the resulting Bill returns to the House and the Senate for final approval, after which it must be approved by the President.

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