Rodchenkov anti-doping bill signed into US law by Trump

·3-min read
US Anti-Doping Agency chif executive officer Travis Tygart says the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act signed into law Friday by President Donald Trump provides vital tools to punish dope cheats and protect clean athletes

An anti-doping bill named for Grigory Rodchenkov, the whistleblower who unveiled a state-run Russian doping program, was signed into US law on Friday by President Donald Trump.

"The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act" imposes criminal sanctions on certain people involved in international doping fraud conspiracies and requires restitution for victims.

The Senate passed the measure last month, setting the stage for the act to become law with Trump's approval.

It calls for fines and prison sentences for those involved in doping schemes at international sports events.

The law began with February 2018 discussions at a meeting of the US Helsinki Commission, a panel of US lawmakers that considers US-Europe issues.

"Three years ago, the idea to criminalize doping fraud and the corruption it breeds was born at a briefing on Capitol Hill," said Jim Walden, Rodchenkov's lawyer, in a statement.

"The Rodchenkov Anti-doping Act is now law and part of the United States criminal code, giving the Department of Justice a powerful and unique set of tools to eradicate doping fraud and related criminal activities from international competitions."

Rodchenkov exposed a doping program in Russia, saying he concealed positive doping tests and destroyed more than 1,000 urine samples as well as providing banned substances to Russian athletes at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

The McLaren Report confirmed the allegations, leading to partial bans for Russia at the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, and Rodchenkov has been living in hiding since going public.

"Dr. Rodchenkov extends his deepest thanks to the Helsinki Commission (and all) who have shown true patriotism and bipartisan leadership to stand up for athletes' rights and make this law a reality," Walden said.

"Now it falls to the Department of Justice to develop a robust program, cooperating with the US Anti-Doping Agency and international law enforcement partners, to bring the guilty to justice and create zero tolerance for doping in sports.

"Dopers should be on clear notice: There is a new sheriff in town, so cheat at your own peril."

When the measure passed the US Senate in November, US Anti-Doping Agency chief executive officer Travis T. Tygart said it was "a monumental day in the fight for clean sport worldwide" and would provide "the tools needed to protect clean athletes and hold accountable international doping conspiracies that defraud sport, sponsors and harm athletes."

In addition to criminal penalties, the law also protects whistleblowers from retaliation and provides restitution for athletes harmed by doping.

"This day could not have been possible without the extraordinary courage of the whistleblowers like Dr. Rodchenkov and (Russian track doping exposer) Yulia Stepanova who stepped forward to shine floodlights on Russia’s vast state-sponsored doping conspiracy," Walden said.

"We hope that other countries will join us in this fight by adopting their own anti-doping laws and partnering with the US on cross-border law enforcement cooperation to protect the rights of clean athletes everywhere."

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