US tries to dictate clean sport rules

Mikhail Simonov, exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza
US tries to dictate clean sport rules

Adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act named after the former director of the Anti-Doping Center Grigory Rodchenkov, who became the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) whistleblower, threatens an unprecedented split in the world of sports. The proclaimed goal seems to be good, but the results can be completely opposite.

The law provides for criminal penalties for participating in fraud conspiracies which affect the results of major international sports competitions using prohibited substances or methods. That is, the law should be viewed more widely. It deals not only with doping but also with ‘fraud conspiracies’ influencing results. This may be bribery of a direct opponent, the encouragement of a third team that does not claim victory in a particular tournament but is capable of influencing the ranking in the standings.

Whoever violates the law may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment for 10 years and fined of up to $ 250,000 or up to $ 1,000,000 if the violator is other than an individual. The statute of limitations for such crimes is 10 years. The document provides protection for whistleblowers who are valuable witnesses in anti-doping investigations. To become a law, the draft must be approved by the US Senate and then signed by the President of the United States. It seems this process will not take long.

The preparation of the bill started last year. It immediately sparked discussions in the sports world. The fact is that the proposed punishments concern not only American athletes, but all those for whom victory is paramount, and they are ready to use any means to achieve it. US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, the member of the Democratic party, is one of those who were working on the bill. While introducing it, he said that the adoption of the law is almost the only coercive measure that could "counter the corrupt behavior of the Russian authorities." However, one should not consider the law purely and only as anti-Russian. It does intend to restore order in the world of sports, but it seems to contain many other threats. Thus, the National Olympic committees - all 206 - felt a threat to their interests. And the International Olympic Committee even backfired: the United States is by no means the leader in the number of tests conducted by WADA authorised laboratories. The attack was triggered by suspicions: if one studies American violations, many of the current scandals will seem like a trifle. And there are reasons for such an assumption: there are many foreign athletes who were caught on doping and many sportsmen admitted to using doping after the completion of their outstanding careers!

Melanie Griffin, Carl Lewis, Ben Johnson, Marion Jones, Lance Armstrong, Frank Luke, Antonio Pettigrew, Tim Montgomery, Tyson Gay, Mike Richards - are only a few of the greatest athletes. They are multiple World and Olympic champions. Sports affected are also diverse - athletics, boxing, cycling and even hockey ...

Nevertheless, the law will obviously be adopted. So, where does it lead? More precisely, where it can lead. It is easy to assume that athletes, knowing about their sins, will avoid competitions in the United States. After all, if the truth is revealed, the punishment will be catastrophic. For example, if the US anti-doping law was in force in 1994, great Diego Maradona, who was caught for doping during the World Cup, would not be just disqualified and fined, but would be imprisoned - the United States does not like ardent anti-Americanists like him, and this factor would also be taken in account. Therefore, the athletes from such a ‘risk group’ will not participate in the competitions held in the US.

Of course, Washington may well request the arrest of an athlete in another country, there is no unusual in this practice, but it will be more difficult to perform. Excessive perseverance of Americans may result in the collapse of various international sports organizations and the creation of new ones with a new charter and order that are free from American influence. In general, things can go according to the familiar scenario of the collapse both for doping or anti-doping reasons due to excessive US pressure. As, for example, in the boxing world, where in addition to the so-called Amateur League, there are a lot of associations - prestigious and less prestigious, conducting their own tournaments and championships. Thus, the Olympic movement can fall apart into a number of organizations.

It is important not to consider the current development as an anti-Russian conspiracy and not to assume that it aims to impinge on the rights and dignity of Russian athletes, some of whom were barred from participating in the Olympic Games in Brazil and Korea and those participating were deprived of the right to perform under the anthem of the Russian Federation. The Russian authorities, in fact, need to clear the Augean stables - sport - littered with doping. This task can not be contested by any sane sports official and it fully coincides with the issue the United States decided to solve.

Meanwhile, the incoming head of WADA Witold Banka, taking office on January 1, 2020, outlined the organization’s agenda. He said that the situation has come this far that it is unacceptable to turn a blind eye to manipulations. Thus, very tough measures will be taken. Regardless of where the athlete comes from - from Russia, the USA or Poland - those caught will be severely punished. “There are a lot of frauds, as in other spheres of life. Nevertheless, I believe that it makes sense to protect clean athletes. This is the essence of WADA and everyone involved in the fight against doping. We plan to increase the number of checks, especially in Africa, where there are little research and no anti-doping education. I look forward to greater efficiency and more accredited laboratories. But I want to be honest - we can not completely get rid of doping. One must be aware of this. In sports, as in all spheres of life, there will always be frauds and criminals. But we can deal with them more effectively, ” Witold Banka said, referring to the data: WADA's annual budget is $ 40 mln, and only one investigation in Russia costs almost $ 2 million. “But we want to tackle global regulation to fight against doping, we need additional resources, we need expensive innovative research ...” Przeglad Sportowy quotes Witolda Banka as saying.