U.S. Lawmakers Trying To Criminalize Doping In International Sports

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On Tuesday, U.S. lawmakers proposed a bill that would criminalize doping in global sports competitions, an issue that has plagued many such events in recent years.

U.S. Congress Push To Criminalize Global Sports Doping

According to The New York Times, the law inspired by the Russian doping scandal, which first surfaced shortly before the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil and has since proved to be a major controversy. The bill would reportedly harken back to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, which states it is illegal to bribe foreign dignitaries in order to receive any type of financial benefit.

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The Times reported that this proposed law would not apply to leagues of exclusively American teams, like Major League Baseball. However, the legislation could affect players who compete in global events for that sport like the World Baseball Classic.

The bill has been named the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, and is named after Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the chemist who managed Russia’s anti-doping laboratory for reportedly 10 years before he revealed the country’s government-sponsored cheating practices he had been involved in. The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi was one of the competitions were the highest number of Russian athletes were discovered to have doped by taking performance-enhancing drugs or through other means. A thorough investigation revealed that urine samples of more than 100 of these athletes had been tampered with, although some Russian government officials denied reports of doping. Many of the country’s stars were banned from participating in theRio 2016 Olympics, while others were forced to compete under a neutral flag — “The Olympic Athletes from Russia” — at this year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The International Olympic Committee overturned a doping ban for 28 Russian athletes just days before the 2018 Winter Olympics started in February.

The U.S. currently donates $2.3 million to the World Anti-Doping Agency. It is the largest donor out of all countries to the global regulator of drug use in sports.

On Thursday, the FIFA World Cup started in Russia. The 64-game soccer tournament is one of the biggest global sporting events and is the first major event in the country since the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

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The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act was co-sponsored by three members of congress: Democratic Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, and Republican Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas.

Dr. Rodchenkov has reportedly lived in the U.S. since late 2015, and was charged in Russia after he admitted to running the doping program after being ordered to by a government official.