A bill that will allow U.S. officials to prosecute anyone involved in doping at international sporting events is on the verge of becoming law in the United States.
The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act will allow the U.S. to seek prosecution for doping offences at events involving American athletes, sponsors or broadcasters.
It means team coaches or managers and officials from any country can be investigated with potential penalties including fines and prison sentences. Athletes will be exempt as they already come under WADA sanctions.
WADA has actively opposed key parts of the bill, raising concerns it will undermine and “disrupt the global legal anti-doping framework” and could deter whistleblowers from coming forward.
US Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart described it as a “monumental day in the fight for clean sport worldwide”.
The bill is named after Grigory Rodchenkov, the Russian whistleblower who revealed information of the state-sponsored doping regime in Russia.
It passed through the Senate on Monday and is expected to be signed into law by President Trump.
WADA president expresses concerns
WADA president Witold Banka has expressed his concerns over the act, and wants to know why it does not cover US professional and college sports.
He said in a statement on Tuesday: “We join other stakeholders around the globe in asking why this US legislation, which purports to protect athletes and claims jurisdiction overseas, specifically excludes the hugely popular and influential professional and college leagues.
“Nearly half a million athletes compete in US college sports, and thousands more in the professional leagues. These leagues were originally included in the Act but were subsequently removed without explanation.
“Why are those who surround the athletes in these associations and leagues now exempt from the scope of this legislation? If it is not good enough for American sports, why is it being imposed on the rest of the world?
“While the Act was passed without consultation with international anti-doping partners, WADA will seek to work with US authorities on implementing this legislation to ensure that the global anti-doping system, which has evolved for 20 years in close collaboration with the US, is not upended, that WADA’s mandated investigative capacity is not diminished, and that the negative impact of this Act is minimised.”
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