Global Athlete Podcast

I am hosting a brand new podcast from Global Athlete, and the first episode dropped today, June 15th! You can find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Sounder.fm, or by searching for ‘Global Athlete’ wherever you listen to podcasts. Or you can simply press play at the bottom of this post!

The podcast features in-depth conversations about international sport governance, athlete rights, and the future of the Olympic and Paralympic games. New episodes will drop weekly on Tuesdays.

The first episode, out today, gives an overview and history of international sport governance. I spoke with Professor Jules Boykoff of Pacific University about how athletes fit into the Olympic story, the IOC’s governance structure, how the United Nations addresses the democracy deficit of the IOC, and more.

As always, I value your feedback, suggestions, and criticisms. You can reach our whole podcast team at hello@globalathlete.org or me personally at noah@noahhoffman.com.

I hope you enjoy the podcast!

Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act Signed Into Law

THE RODCHENKOV ANTI-DOPING ACT IS LAW!

The U.S. has now criminalized international doping conspiracies.

This is the most meaningful step yet in preventing doping atrocities like the ones carried out by Russia at Sochi 2014.

Athletes are now eligible for restitution when they are defrauded by dopers.

Doping whistleblowers like Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov are now eligible for U.S. Witness Protection.

Celebrate clean sport!

***

Around 7:30pm Eastern Time today, December 4th, the President signed the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act. The bill had unanimously passed both houses of Congress.

The passage of this bill is the culmination of a 3-year effort to create meaningful change in the global anti-doping landscape. The effort was led by Paul Massaro at the U.S. Helsinki Commission. It would not have passed without the work of Travis Tygart and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency staff, Julia Pacetti, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov and his lawyer Jim Walden, Rob Koehler and the team at Global Athlete, Bryan Fogel and the Icarus team, Jim Swartz and the team at FairSport, Han Xiao and Bree Schaaf at the USOPC Athletes’ Advisory Council, and numerous athletes and athlete groups across the country. Katie Uhlaender, in particular, worked to build momentum for the bill. Finally, Yuliya Stepanova and her husband Vitaly exposed the depth of institutional doping in Russia at great personal risk. The clean sport community is indebted to them.

Special thanks as well to Jessie Diggins, Molly Huddle, and Brittney Reese for working with me to show athlete support for this critical piece of legislation.

An Update with Zach and a Defense of The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act

First, I published this rebuttal today in The Province (a B.C. newspaper) of an article published last week (also in The Province) attacking the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act. The attack, filled with spin and misinformation, is in line with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) effort to undermine the legislation. I hope my response will help clear up any confusion caused by WADA’s campaign. Please call your Senators to express your support for the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act. We need the power of federal law enforcement in the fight for clean sport to counter systematic state-sponsored doping fraud.

Second, I recorded this conversation a few weeks ago with my friend and former coach Zach Caldwell:

It’s long and wide-ranging. If you don’t have time to listen to the entire hour and twenty minutes (understandable), I recommend starting at 1:03:20 when the conversation turns to the ways the Olympic Solidarity model has failed athletes. In the conversation I reference this study done by Ryerson University, in partnership with Global Athlete, that found that only 4.1% of total revenue in the Olympic movement goes to athletes.

FasterSkier Interview

On Monday I recorded a conversation with Rachel Perkins of FasterSkier.com about anti-doping during the pandemic, my work with US Anti-Doping and Global Athlete, and my experience in school during the pandemic.

You can listen on FasterSkier’s website here or by searching for Nordic Nation wherever you get your podcasts.

Enjoy! And as always, I appreciate your feedback. You can reach me at the email address on the Contact page.

Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act

Jessie Diggins and I have an op-ed out today in the Minneapolis Star Tribune encouraging the U.S. Senate to support the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act. Eventually the coronavirus crisis will subside and the world’s best athletes will again awe and inspire us. When the competitions resume, we need the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act to ensure a level playing field for the next generation of champions. Check it out here: strib.mn/2vlX0HY

Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act

The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act (RADA) passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday (Oct. 22nd)! It passed “on suspension”, a process reserved for noncontroversial bills with strong bipartisan support, and there were no voices in opposition.

This Act will be a sea change for the anti-doping movement, but we, as a community who believes in the power of clean sport, need to build on the momentum of the House vote by telling our Senators that we support this Act! The biggest hurdle to getting a noncontroversial bill like RADA through the Senate is bandwidth. The Senate only has so much time. We need to bring this Act to the attention of as many Senators as possible and tell them to prioritize its passage! Every call or handwritten letter from a constituent matters! Please help sport live up to its potential as a global force for good by calling or writing a personal letter to your Senators asking them to cosponsor S.259, the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act.

If you are an American athlete currently or formerly competing at the elite level, please consider publishing a letter in your local newspaper asking your senator to support the Act, similar to the letter Olympic Champion Maddie Bowman published prior to the House vote. (Please reach out to me at noah@noahhoffman.com if you want assistance through the process.)

The Act currently resides in the Senate in the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, chaired by Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi. To move the Act forward, we need Senator Wicker to add the bill to the committee’s agenda. In addition to contacting your own Senators, if you know people who vote in Mississippi, please encourage them to contact Senator Wicker’s office to show their support for the Act. If you know elite athletes who reside in Mississippi, please encourage them to publish a letter of support for the Act, and please have them contact me to walk them through the process.

The World Anti-Doping Agency has been unable to stem the tide of international doping conspiracies. Malicious foreign state-sponsored actors as well as domestic teams and clubs have orchestrated systematic and extensive doping programs for a multitude of athletes. Organizations like the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) do not have the tools to fight foreign governments or well-funded professional teams. It is time for us to join nations like Austria and Germany by bringing the power of federal law enforcement to the anti-doping fight.

You can find contact information for your Senators here. Please share with them, via a phone call or personal letter (not an email), a few sentences about why we need federal law enforcement’s involvement in the anti-doping fight (see the above paragraph or the summary below) and why you believe clean sport is important to a thriving society.

The text of the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act is here. (This is the House version which we ultimately hope will be passed by the Senate.) Please feel free to contact me with any questions about the bill at noah@noahhoffman.com or on Instagram or Facebook.

Summary of Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act

The Act will

  • Criminalize doping conspiracies that target international sporting events
    • International jurisdiction extends to any sporting events that has
    • 1 or more U.S. athletes and 3 or more international athletes competing
      • AND
    • is a signatory to the WADA code
      • AND
    • has a sponsor that does business in the U.S. OR sells rights to be broadcast in the U.S.
  • Not make doping by athletes illegal
    • According to a British study, the biggest deterrent for athletes not to dope is the possibility that they will not be able to compete. If doping were criminalized, first offense would likely result in only a fine
    • Makes no sense to prosecute athletes criminally for using a contaminated supplement or taking a prohibited over-the-counter medication
    • Criminalizing doping by athletes would hamper USADA’s work to clean up sport because athletes would not cooperate with anti-doping investigations for fear that they could later be prosecuted
    • Federal law enforcement does not have the resources nor the will to take over all anti-doping efforts in the U.S.
    • Sport organizing and governing committees (such as the USOC, the IOC and WADA) would not support a bill that could result in athletes being handcuffed at the finish line
    • If doping is criminalized for athletes, out-of-competition anti-doping tests could potentially be a violation of the fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution which prohibits against unwarranted searches and seizures
  • Require federal law enforcement to share information with USADA to assist its fight against doping
    • Unlike federal law enforcement, USADA does not have search and seizure or subpoena powers
  • Provide the possibility for restitution to athletes who have been defrauded by doping
  • Provide witness protection to doping whistleblowers
    • Currently, whistleblowers such as Dr. Rodchenkov and Yuliya and Vitaliy Stepanov are not eligible for U.S. witness protection because doping conspiracy is not a crime, even though they are at considerable personal risk
    • Whistleblowing is essential to policing doping in sport

Other facts…

  • Many lawmakers are interested in the Act primarily as a way to counter Russian corruption as a tool of foreign policy
    • Doping conspiracies often beget other illegal activity, including bribery and money laundering
    • Sport in the United States economy exceeds $500 Billion/year. Doping threatens the economic impact of sport
  • The Act was introduced in both the house and senate on January 29th with bipartisan support. The Act currently has 3 cosponsors in the Senate (2 Republican, 1 Democrat)
  • Official name: Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act of 2019, S. 259 in the Senate and H.R. 835 in the House. (We hope the House version will pass the Senate.)
  • Substantial community support for this Act will help build momentum in the Senate to encourage lawmakers to move the bill forward
  • Current state of the bill as of October 28th, 2019
    • The Act passed the House of Representatives on October 22nd, 2019. It passed via a motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended and was agreed to by voice vote
    • The Act has been referred to the Senate.
    • In the Senate, the Act has been referred to the committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
      • The goal is to bundle the Act with about 10 others into a package of noncontroversial bills and pass it via what’s known as Unanimous Consent.

Skiing as Religious Fulfillment

As a representative from Brown at the Boston Interfaith Leadership Initiative (BILI), I was asked to write about my relationship to faith and religion. The resulting piece is more about my relationship to skiing than religion. You can find it here.

My first BILI blog post, which was published in April, is here. Thank you to Hebrew College and the Boston University School of Theology for the opportunity to be a BILI Fellow.