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Congress considering a law that would criminalize doping

In recent months, police raids in Germany and Austria led to the arrest of a surprising number of athletes on suspicion of participating in blood doping. However, many do not realize that the United States has no laws on the books that specifically criminalize doping in sport.

That could all change with H.R. 835, a bill introduced in Congress this spring to impose criminal consequences for doping activities by individuals and organizations.

Referred to as the “Rodenchenkov Anti-Doping Act,” the proposed law already has the support of Major League Baseball and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard organization.  

Rodenchenkov Act proposes criminal sanctions for doping

Introduced by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, the Rodenchenkov Act would establish criminal penalties for “participating in a scheme in commerce to influence a major international sport competition through prohibited substances or methods.”

Criminal penalties under the law would include:

  • Fines of up to $250,000 for an individual and $1 million for an organization
  • Up to 10 years in prison

The legislation would also protect individuals who act as whistleblowers about doping rings. The bill is named for Dr. Grigory Rodenchenkov, who is credited by many for exposing the Russian state-run doping scheme that occurred during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

New law would align the U.S. with many other countries on doping

A significant number of nations prominent in international sport already have criminal laws specific to doping in sport, including:

  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Italy
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Spain

It remains to be seen whether the proposed law will have enough support to be enacted, but the proposed legislation would significantly change the landscape of anti-doping enforcement in the United States.

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