U.S. lawmakers introduced a bill to the House of Representatives that hopes to criminalize doping by proposing prison time to those using, manufacturing or distributing performance enhancing drugs in international competition. News of the bill was first reported by Rebecca Ruiz of The New York Times.
The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act is named after Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, who was the former head of a Russian antidoping lab before becoming a whistleblower in uncovering the country's systemic doping at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Rodchenkov's revelation to the World Anti-Doping Agency and The New York Times was chronicled in the Oscar Award-winning documentary Icarus.
The bill was presented by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Rep. Michael Burgess.
“Meeting Dr. Rodchenkov and witnessing his courage in the face of Putin’s brutal regime inspired me to introduce the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act,” Rep. Jackson Lee said in a starement. “The unprecedented level of doping he exposed at the Olympics, where American athletes compete and U.S. companies are sponsors, demonstrates how countries engaging in clean sport are being defrauded by criminals. In particular, athletes’ livelihoods suffer when prize money and sponsorships are awarded to cheaters.”
The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act will impose pentalties ranging from $250,000 for individuals or $1,000,000 for organizations with the possibility of imprisonment of up to five years to those who manufacture, distribute and use PEDs in international sports, according to the Times. Major League Baseball would not be affected by the proposed bill but the legislation could impact international competitions when athletes compete in an event like the World Baseball Classic, according to Ruiz.
The act woul establish a private civil right of action for doping fraud, which would give clean athletes and defrauded corporations the chance to seek civil action against those who deprived athletes of medals or financial rewards. A window of seven years would be set up for criminal actions while civil lawsuits can be pursued within 10 years.
Whistleblowers would also be protected from any retaliation or intimidation tactics. Rodchenkov fled from Russia to the United States and then assisted the World Anti-Doping Agency with its investigation into Russian doping. A report by Richard McLaren later alleged that more than 1,000 Russian athletes were implicated in a doping scandal. Rodchenkov is in hiding but presumed to be in the United States. Russia has submitted requests to Interpol for arrest warrants for Rodchenkov to be extradited from the U.S. and face criminal charges.