- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A bipartisan group of House members have proposed to criminalize doping in international sports and make those who use, manufacture or distribute performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in global competitions face penalties including lengthy prison terms and fines of up to $1 million.

The bill was introduced to the House on Tuesday, two days before the 2018 soccer World Cup starts in Russia — the same country which hosted the 2014 Sochi Olympics which witnessed one of the most elaborate doping ploys in modern sports history.

Sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas Democrat, Rep. Michael Burgess, Texas Republican, and Rep. Gwen Moore, Wisconsin Democrat, the legislation takes its name from Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the Russian whistleblower who helped expose the Kremlin-sponsored doping scandal during Sochi.

Dr. Rodchenkov brought to light a scheme that involved deceiving international anti-doping authorities by swapping athletes’ samples. The ploy also included corrupt officials using bribes and illicit payments, sometimes through U.S. financial institutions, to commit the fraud.

The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act seeks to expand U.S. law enforcement’s ability to prosecute PED and doping violations overseas and would be the first of its kind with such global reach. It echoes the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal to bribe foreign officials to gain a business advantage.

“Doping fraud is a crime in which big money, state assets and transnational criminals gain advantage and honest athletes and companies are defrauded,” Ms. Jackson Lee said in statement on Tuesday. “This practice, some of it state-sanctioned, has the ability to undermine international relations, and is often connected to more nefarious actions by state actors.”

Mr. Burgess added: “International competitions should be the pinnacle of human physical achievement — a chance for those who have trained harder than anyone to go head-to-head and demonstrate their skills to the whole world. There should not be an opportunity for states to engage in misconduct. Athletes who compete honestly must not have victory seized from them by an opponent who has used performance-enhancing drugs.”

The bill proposes to extend U.S. jurisdiction over international sports events, by establishing criminal penalties for knowingly manufacturing, distributing, and using PEDs — with penalties including fines of up to $1,000,000, or imprisonment of up to ten years, depending on the offense.

The proposal would apply to all major international competitions in which U.S. athletes or U.S. entities participate, so that international fraud against Americans will not go unpunished, according to the bill sponsors.

Other provisions include protecting whistleblowers from retaliation, to ensure that intimidation tactics will not be tolerated against those who work to expose fraudulent schemes.

To justify the expanded jurisdiction over global competitions for U.S. law enforcement — the bill notes America’s contribution to the World Anti-Doping Agency, the global regulator of drugs in sports.

Each year the U.S. contributes $2.3 million to the body — the largest of any nation.

The bill sponsors are members of the Congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission. They were also instrumental in passing the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which gave U.S. officials the ability to freeze financial assets and impose visa restrictions on Russian nationals implicated in human rights abuses anywhere in the world.

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