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Bill to criminalize international doping schemes signed into law

The bill is designed to allow U.S. prosecutors to go after doping schemes at international events in which Americans are athletes, sponsors or broadcasters.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this May 24, 2016 file photo an employee of the Russia's national drug-testing laboratory holds a vial in Moscow, Russia.

WASHINGTON — A bill that will criminalize international doping conspiracies became law Friday with President Donald Trump's signature, closing out a two-year legislative process during which the only true opposition to the bill came from outside the United States.

The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act had earlier passed both houses of Congress on voice votes. It passed despite lobbying efforts from the World Anti-Doping Agency, which said it will “disrupt the global legal anti-doping framework.”

The bill is designed to allow U.S. prosecutors to go after doping schemes at international events in which Americans are involved as athletes, sponsors or broadcasters. It is named after Grigory Rodchenkov, the former Moscow lab director who helped uncover widespread cheating directed by the Russian government to help the country's athletes at the Sochi Olympics and other major events.

It was the response to the Russian scandal from WADA, the IOC and other international sports federations that led the U.S. to pursue the law. Representatives from the U.S. drug-control office bristled at WADA's efforts to lobby for extensive changes in the bill.

Rodchenkov's attorney, Jim Walden, said the law gives “the Department of Justice a powerful and unique set of tools to eradicate doping fraud and related criminal activities from international competitions.”

The law is in line with others that have helped U.S. authorities crack down on international corruption in different areas. It calls for fines of up to $1 million and prison sentences of up to 10 years for those who participate in schemes designed to influence international sports competitions through doping.

It is not designed to go after individual athletes.

Among WADA's concerns is that this law will tempt other countries to consider similar legislation that could undermine the harmonization of the global anti-doping rules.

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