Wada expresses concern at US anti-doping bill

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has questioned the potential impact a new US anti-doping bill could have on the wider efforts to combat the use of illegal substances in sport.

The Associated Press news agency has seen a copy of a letter sent by Wada to US Senators, which claims the bill would “have the unintended consequences of shattering the anti-doping system” if passed.

The bill, which has been named the Rodchenkov Act after the whistleblower who revealed Russia’s widespread doping at the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi, was passed by the House last year. The AP notes that Wada has hired a lobbying firm to discuss potential changes in the legislation.

While Wada expresses support for the “overall objectives” of the bill, it insists the legislation would create a “chaotic World Anti-Doping system with no legal predictability”.

Wada’s director general Olivier Niggli told the AP: “Wada favours governments using their legislative powers to protect clean athletes in the fight against doping and this Act is no exception.”

Niggli stressed that Wada is not seeking to “scuttle” the bill but expressed concern over “elements of the Act that could backfire and be counter-productive for the protection of clean sport around the world”.

The bill would enforce fines of up to $1m (€908,000) and prison sentences of up to 10 years for any athlete that takes part in doping schemes set up to influence sports competitions. According to the AP, any individual athlete who gets caught would not be subject to punishment.

Wada supports the part of the bill that allows the US Anti-Doping Agency to use information collected by federal investigators that could be used to prosecute cheats.

However, Wada’s letter added: “The effort to criminalise doping acts under US law and then apply that law extraterritorially will shatter the international harmonisation of rules that is critical to advancing clean sport.”

Wada also believes that if the law is passed, other nations would introduce similar measures. The agency claimed that “competing jurisdiction on the same set of facts will result in confusion, weaken the system, and compromise the quest for clean sport”.