5 February 2020

WADA warns Rodchenkov Act could shatter anti-doping

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has warned that the US Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act (RADA) could ‘have the unintended consequences of shattering the anti-doping system’ in a letter sent to US Senators obtained by the Associated Press. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will hold a hearing at 10am today to discuss the Act, which will be broadcast live on its internet site.

WADA has previously clarified that whilst it welcomes the Rodchenkov Act, it is concerned about its extraterritorial reach. Section 4 of the Act, entitled ‘Major International Doping Fraud Conspiracies’, mandates that it is illegal to conspire to create a doping scheme, and outlines that there is ‘extraterritorial Federal jurisdiction’ over this offence. Section 7 of the Act mandates that when an offence is committed under Section 4, the Department of Justice (DOJ), Homeland Security (DHS), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shall share relevant information with the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

Detail from the May 2019 WADA Executive Committee meeting confirmed that a WADA delegation travelled to Washington to discuss the Rodchenkov Act…

It is understood that whilst WADA welcomes the Act, it is concerned that its extraterritorial aspect could lead to a situation where overseas investigations would be obliged to share investigation information with USADA. ‘The problem was the extraterritoriality issue, having one law in the USA that could potentially apply anywhere in the world’, explained Olivier Niggli, WADA’s Director General, at its Executive Committee meeting on 15 May last year. ‘No other countries had done that. Then there would be an overlap of responsibilities, a case with different laws that could potentially apply, and the whole system would become a lot more complicated rather than there being clear responsibilities.’

As such, WADA has admitted that it allocated part of its US$250,000 US budget to raising its concerns about the Act in the US. This included a WADA delegation travelling to Washington last year to discuss such concerns. WADA has previously denied the suggestion that this involved ‘lobbying’, in other words, seeking to influence legislators about an issue. “There is nothing to investigate”, said Niggli, when responding to calls for an investigation at the World Conference on Doping in Sport in November last year.

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