While the law was championed by US anti-doping officials, it encountered opposition from the World Anti-Doping Agency, which is tasked with setting and enforcing drop guidelines for major international competitions such as the Summer and Winter Olympics .
In addition to protecting whistleblowers, the law provides for prison sentences of up to 10 years and fines of up to $ 1 million for conspirators involved in doping programs that defraud US athletes. The bill is not specifically aimed at athletes so they can act as whistleblowers and collaborate with investigators.
“This is a banner day for clean athletes everywhere,” said Jim Walden, attorney for Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of the Moscow laboratory. “Obviously, the United States is often at the forefront of these anti-corruption issues. Hopefully, rule of law nations everywhere will band together and take similar action so that the United States can be part of a network of countries that are taking these issues more seriously. Clean sport depends on balance and together we can restore confidence in international sporting events by locking our arms and making sure that meaningful enforcement occurs. ”
While the White House has not publicly stated whether President Trump intends to sign the legislation, the government’s drug policy bureau welcomed news of the Senate’s passage on Monday.
“Bad actors who enable unfair competition should face legal ramifications – a position shared by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in the US and athletes around the world,” said an official with the Office of National Drug Control Policy of the White House in an email. “We hope that WADA will see this development as a positive step that will strengthen clean sport to improve global sporting competition.”
However, WADA has long questioned the legislation, fearing that the US is going too far in its efforts to oversee international sport. The bill gives a country the ability to investigate and impose penalties for violations around the world, creating jurisdiction issues of concern to WADA officials.
“In particular, there may be overlapping laws in different jurisdictions that jeopardize a single set of rules for all athletes around the world,” said James Fitzgerald, a WADA spokesman, in an email. “This harmonization of rules is at the heart of the global anti-doping program.”
He said WADA feared that whistleblowers could be less effective if multiple jurisdictions are involved in investigating, assessing and punishing doping violations and the overall effort could undermine WADA’s investigative agency.
“WADA also wants to understand why this legislation excludes large areas of US sport, particularly the professional leagues and all college sports,” said Fitzgerald. “If it’s not good enough for American sport, why is it okay for the rest of the world?”
Legislation covers major international events that fall under the WADA Code, include at least one American athlete, broadcast in the United States, or include a sponsor doing business in the United States. Proponents of the law compare the efforts to laws that also give the United States extensive law enforcement agencies to protect American financial interests worldwide, such as the Bank and Wire Fraud Act or the RICO Act.
“We’ve seen this over and over again with anti-terror laws, money laundering laws, and bribery laws,” said Walden, who worked with lawmakers to draft the bill.
Travis Tygart, Director General of USADA, has particularly criticized WADA’s handling of the Russian doping program and supported the Rodchenkov Act from day one, as WADA alone could not effectively exterminate doping conspirators. The law was born out of the Russian scandal and has enjoyed the support of the non-partisan congress since its introduction in January 2019.
“The law provides criminal penalties for systems that run doping fraud programs that rob athletes, citizens and businesses,” Tygart said in a statement. “It also protects whistleblowers from retaliation and provides compensation to athletes who have been betrayed by conspiracies. It’s a monumental day in the global fight for clean sports and we look forward to the law soon becoming law and helping to change the game for the better for clean athletes. “