The United States government is considering new bipartisan legislation that would give it the authority to prosecute foreign citizens who are caught using anabolic steroids and/or other doping substances at international sports competition. The radical new legislation goes far beyond criminalizing doping within the United States. It makes it a crime to use prohibited performance-enhancing drugs anywhere in the world.
.@HelsinkiComm Commissioners @JacksonLeeTX18 and @michaelcburgess introduce #Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act to establish civil remedies/criminal penalties for doping fraud crimes at international sports competitions. https://t.co/JvvzWVO3zX #doping #Russia
— Helsinki Commission (@HelsinkiComm) June 12, 2018
The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act (RADA) was introduced earlier this summer by U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (Democrat-Texas) and Michael Burgess (Republic-Texas). Lee and Burgess are Commissioners on the independent government agency known as the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) or alternatively as the U.S. Helsinki Commission. The CSCE has urged the U.S. Congress to pass the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act as soon as possible.
The CSCE is supposed to be spending its time and resources promoting human rights, security issues, democracy, economic-related activities, environmental protection and military cooperation. The CSCE has apparently decided that fighting steroid use and doping is an effective way to accomplish these goals.
Unfortunately, the RADA is an extreme and radical piece of legislation that will be met with strong resistance. Any attempt to impose U.S. law on law-abiding citizens of other sovereign countries will not be popular around the world.
The RADA sponsors attempted to justify imposing criminal sanctions on foreign citizens by claiming that clean athletes in the United States require protection from bad international athletes. Specifically, the sponsors argue that the U.S. and its citizens are being defrauded by foreign athletes who are using steroids.
“The unprecedented level of doping he exposed at the Olympics, where American athletes compete and U.S. companies are sponsors, demonstrates how countries engaging in clean sport are being defrauded by criminals,” said Rep. Lee. “In particular, athletes’ livelihoods suffer when prize money and sponsorships are awarded to cheaters.”
The RADA will also be strongly criticized because it explicitly excludes professional athletes who compete in private sporting leagues such as the National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB). NFL players and MLB players will effectively be exempt from prosecution under the RADA.
The RADA will only apply to international sports competition which involve three countries in addition to the United States. The United States must be represented by at least four athletes for the law to be applicable.
In other words, your favorite NFL and MLB players can not be criminally-prosecuted for doping under the proposed legislation. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) seized upon this to criticize the legislation. The IOC argued that the U.S. government should do something about the widespread doping in professional sports leagues such as the NFL and MLB before sticking its nose into the affairs of other sovereign nations with threats of incarcerating its citizens.
“We very much appreciate and welcome moves in the United States to step up the fight against doping and we assume that the very worrying existing challenges with some of the professional leagues in the United States will be addressed as a matter of urgency,” the IOC said.
“Especially since this has become extremely obvious again in the last report of USADA which details the low level of testing currently taking place in these professional leagues.
“However, it is a matter of concern that the intention of the proposed legislation is to put athletes from all 206 National Olympic Committee from around the world who take part in international competition under the criminal code of U.S. law.”