— Published 17 November 2020

A law to rule the world

Disturbing. The US Senate passed a bill on Monday (November 16th) that could change the current order of things in the fight against doping. It authorises the courts of the United States to initiate criminal proceedings against anyone convicted of doping at international events involving American athletes, sponsors or broadcasters. Clearly, the United States is claiming the right to act as the world’s policemen in the fight against doping, including in matters taking place elsewhere on the planet. The so-called Rodchenkov bill, named after the Russian whistleblower now a refugee in the United States, was passed unopposed by the Senate, as it had been earlier by the House of Representatives. It must now be signed by the president to become an effective law. “This law will provide the tools necessary to protect clean athletes and punish those responsible for international doping plots, said Travis Tygart, director of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). It provides for criminal penalties against fraudsters. It also protects whistleblowers against reprisals and provides compensation for athletes who are victims of doping plots.” The bill has divided the world in the fight against doping. WADA in particular has never made a secret of its hostility to a text that could wreak havoc in the international sports movement. She fears that US law, by taking the place of sporting jurisdictions, undermines unity in regulations and penalties. WADA also questions, and rightly so, why American professional sports (basketball, baseball, football…) are not covered by the law. “If it’s not good enough for American sport, why is it good for the rest of the world ?” WADA wonders. Good question.