The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act Passed By Congress

On Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, the United States Senate unanimously passed the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act — named after Grigory Rodchenkov, the whistleblower against Russia’s state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. According to Reuters reporting, American athletes competing in international sport who commit doping violations could be charged for a crime that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and face fines from $250,000 (for individuals) up to $1,000,000 (other entities). The bill also extends to sponsors and broadcasters.

The bill establishes a means to hold those who cheat via doping violations in international competition accountable while protecting athletes who compete drug-free. The bill provides what criminal penalties can be pursued if an athlete, sponsor, or broadcaster is found to be in violation. Additionally, it protects “whistleblowers from retaliation and provides restitution for athletes defrauded by conspiracies to dope.”

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Response to the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act

Per, the bill was introduced on Jan. 29, 2019, sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas’s 18th district — she won reelection in 2020 to serve a 14th term. The bill was passed by the house without objection nine months later, on Oct. 22nd.

Although stricter rules against those who commit doping offenses is a good thing, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) “expressed concern” about the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act not applying to U.S. professional sports league or collegiate competition. The original draft of the bill did include domestic offenses but was later removed when it was amended on Oct. 16th before moving into the Senate.

WADA’s concerns with the bill are primarily twofold. The first was expressed in an email from WADA to Reuters that read, “it may lead to overlapping laws in different jurisdictions that will compromise having a single set of rules for all athletes around the world.”

The second concern was the domestic exemption for U.S. sports leagues as that begs the question: What’s with the double standard? To Reuters, WADA expressed the importance of harmonization for anti-doping rules, and said: “If it is not good enough for American sports, why is it fine for the rest of the world?”

Olympic weightlifting
Paul Biryukov/Shutterstock

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International Weightlifting Federation

Anti-doping is at the forefront of the Olympic weightlifting world as the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has been riddled with scandal this year. Following the accusations of financial corruption and doping cover-up committed by former IWF President Dr. Tamas Aján being confirmed in the McLaren Report, IWF leadership has been in constant flux. Particularly with the recent ousting of Acting IWF President Ursula Papandrea (which the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has condemned) and appointing of Dr. Michael Irani as IWF Interim President. 

The IOC has threatened the removal of the weightlifting program from the Olympic Games if the chronic doping issues within the sport are not resolved and constitutional reform in the IWF’s governance is not established. Some steps have been taken such as the establishment of the IWF Independent Disciplinary And Ethics Commission.

The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act will become law once it receives the signature of the President of the United States.

Feature image from Sheila Jackson Lee’s Instagram page: @sheilajacksonlee

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