Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act Signed into Law by President Trump

Photo Courtesy: Ryan Casey

Outgoing American President Donald Trump on Friday signed into law the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, which broadens the power of U.S. officials to pursue criminal prosecution for sports doping offenses.

The law was passed by the U.S. Senate last month and received the president’s signature Friday.

Named after Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, the enforcement is aimed not at individual athletes but at larger actors in doping plots. It opens up the possibility of fines up to $1 million and prison sentences up to 10 years for doping conspirators, and gives the U.S. Department of Justice broader latitude to pursue doping offenses. The objective is to add prosecutorial might to the pursuit of rampant doping that is state-sponsored, as in the case of the Russian scheme that Rodchenkov revealed to the world.

“The Act imposes criminal sanctions on certain persons involved in international doping fraud conspiracies and provides restitution for victims of such conspiracies,” President Trump said in a statement. “Section 6 of the Act requires certain executive agencies, including the Department of Justice, to share information with the United States Anti-Doping Agency ‘with regard to any investigation related to a potential violation of section 3 of this Act.’”

The Rodchenkov Act was opposed by both the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency. Upon its passage of the Senate last month, WADA released a statement reiterating its concerns, including that the U.S. would have jurisdiction on doping offenses that occur outside its borders, encroaching on the territory and authority that is supposed to belong to WADA.

“WADA remains concerned that by unilaterally exerting U.S. criminal jurisdiction over all global doping activity, the Act will likely undermine clean sport by jeopardizing critical partnerships and cooperation between nations,” the statement read. “Further, the Act could impede the capacity to benefit from whistleblowers by exposing them to possible prosecution and preventing ‘substantial assistance’ deals in line with the provisions of the Code.”

The Rodchenkov Act is one of a series of issues that has led to a cooling of relations between the U.S. and WADA. The US Anti-Doping Agency supported the bill, however, CEO Travis Tygart calling it “monumental day in the fight for clean sport worldwide” in November.

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee also voiced its support Saturday.

“The passage of the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act demonstrates the importance of the ongoing fight against cheating in international sport,” read a statement from USOPC CEO Sarah Hirschland. “Having a fair and effective international anti-doping program is vital to ensuring that the rights of clean athletes and the integrity of competition are upheld. We appreciate Congress’ efforts to address such injustices, and we are committed to supporting the continuing development of international tools and initiatives needed to root out fraud, identify bad actors, and help to ensure integrity in global sport.”

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