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Bill to criminalize doping passes through U.S. Senate

The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act is one step closer to becoming law


On Monday, an American bill to criminalize doping passed through the Senate and now awaits the President’s signature. The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act aims to allow American prosecutors to investigate doping at international events where Americans are participants, sponsors or broadcasters. This wouldn’t be aimed at individual athletes, but rather larger doping schemes, including state-sponsored doping programs. 

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There are several big players in the running world who have helped push this bill forward, most notably, Emma Coburn and Molly Huddle. Coburn is the 2017 steeplechase world champion and Huddle is a nine-time American record-holder. Both women have been longtime advocates for clean sport. Huddle wrote in the Providence Journal last year, “Nothing compares to the Olympic Games as a platform for athletes to become heroes, and four years is a long time to wait for another shot at glory. An elite runner’s whole career may only last eight years. Due to doping, it is now common for results to change months or even years after the last athlete crosses the finish line.”

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On top of allowing Americans to investigate international doping cases, the act would also protect whistleblowers and allow athletes to seek restitution when they lose earnings to dopers. While Americans believe this is a huge step in the fight against doping, WADA officials have their concerns. The Associated Press reports that WADA has actively opposed the measure, and budgeted six figures to lobby lawmakers over its concerns about the proposed bill. Officials’ main concern is the bill’s ‘extraterritorial’ jurisdiction. 

The bill is named after Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of Moscow’s anti-doping lab, who became the key whistleblower in helping to uncover Russian state-sponsored doping in the Oscar-winning documentary Icarus

If passed, the law would call for fines of up to $1 million and prison time of up to 10 years. Coburn took to Twitter to express her excitement on Monday, saying this is a huge step forward for anti-doping measures. 

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