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.