POWERFUL SPORTS ANTI-DOPING ACT PASSES HOUSE, HEADS TO THE SENATE
The NFL-endorsed Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act is bringing political rivals together to pass legislation that could have a real impact on curbing drug use in sports at all levels
If you are sick of watching too many Americans howling at the moon on Facebook and Twitter about the ongoing impeachment proceedings, it might be refreshing to know that elected officials who you might normally boo or switch channels on, are actually working across the aisle with each other on legislation that could reduce sports doping and make a lasting impact on the health and wellbeing of our youth, while cleaning up cheating in sports that has gone on for decades.
My non-profit, POYS (Protect Our Youth from Steroids) has maintained for years that the key to having an impact on the use of performance enhancing drugs in sports is not endless testing and suspensions, but to go after those individuals and organizations that promote and glorify steroid use.
In the United States, POYS has maintained that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s annual steroid events in Columbus, Ohio and IMG’s “World’s Strongest Man” have done immeasurable damage to athletics here through their events and the qualifiers for these major competitions that take place in virtually every state in the country, drawing young people to be introduced to the “dark side” of steroid use.
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has condemned these events in the form of resolutions that were unanimously passed in 2014 and again in 2016. Both Democrats and Republicans working in concert for the common good.
A third resolution – sponsored by the PA State Senate – that expands the list of condemned individuals and organizations promoting steroids, is finding its way through the legislative process.
The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act of 2019 takes a similar stand. The mission of the law, as stated, is to “To impose criminal sanctions on certain persons involved in international doping fraud conspiracies, to provide restitution for victims of such conspiracies, and to require sharing of information with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to assist its fight against doping, and for other purposes.”
Listed in the "Congress finds the following" section of the bill is a powerful element.
(7) “Doping fraud conspiracies in Major International Sporting Competitions undermine the integrity and value of not only those events but all organized sport around the world, including the United States.”
Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee sponsored the legislation last year. Certainly, the top selling point of the law is its pushback against the Russian and Chinese Olympic programs and the possibility of monetary sanctions against those countries that could be used to reimburse clean American Olympic athletes who were cheated out of a podium spot by state-sponsored doping by those countries.
I went to Washington DC in September and again in November to review the legislation with the creators of the bill plus elected officials involved in passing the law and to go over the potential reach of this law with regards to the United States government and, not only its ability to go after countries who are sponsoring sport doping, but how it could impact international steroid competitions like strongman, powerlifting and bodybuilding.
While the domestic impact is still being determined, the international impact is being felt, especially now that the law has passed the House of Representatives and has moved to the Senate.
Several countries with Authoritarian governments are starting to realize the potential control the United States would have over policing sports doping world-wide, now are complaining to WADA (World Anti Doping Agency).
Here is a paragraph from a recent story in the Washington Post on the reaction from around the world.
“The bill calls for fines of up to $1 million and prison sentences of up to 10 years for bad actors involved in doping schemes designed to cheat athletes.
While the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has been a major champion of the bill, its international counterpart, WADA, has voiced concerns about the legislation’s reach. The matter came to a head last week at the WADA world conference in Poland, where U.S. anti-doping officials said the proposed legislation was being intentionally mischaracterized.”
WADA announced it has paid $250,000 to a lobbyist organization to push American lawmakers to lessen the strictness of the legislation.
While those details are being worked out, there is no mistaking the trend that American leaders have had it with sports doping.
This law, if passed, will be under the jurisdiction of the FBI, not the DEA.
After the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act passed the House with bipartisan support, Congresswoman Jackson Lee, a senior member of the House Committees on the Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Budget, and a member of the Tom Lantos Commission, released this statement following House passage of the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act:
“I am pleased that H.R. 835, the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act (RADA) of 2019, has passed the House of Representatives. In the realm of international sports, unscrupulous individuals seeking to bridge the gap between their own skill and the pinnacle of achievement turn to the use of performance enhancing drugs and increasingly sophisticated modes of concealing the use of any prescribed drugs. This practice, some of it state-sanctioned, has the ability to undermine international relations, and is often connected to more nefarious actions by state actors. Doping fraud is a crime in which big money, state assets, and transnational criminals gain advantage and honest athletes and companies are defrauded. Doping fraud in major international competitions—like the Olympics, the World Cup and the Tour de France—is often linked with corruption, bribery and money laundering. It is not just victory that criminals engaged in doping fraud snatch away from clean athletes—athletes depend on prize money and sponsorships to sustain their livelihoods.
“While the United States mandates rigorous testing of its athletes, condonation of international actors running afoul of global anti-doping protocols harms our country and its athlete-citizens. The United States is the single largest sovereign contributor to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and U.S. athletes and companies compete in and sponsor major international competition.
"Accordingly, the United States has a large role to play in ferreting out corruption in international sports. Not only do U.S. athletes lose out on millions in sponsorships, but when a U.S. company spends millions to create a marketing campaign around an athlete, only to have that athlete later implicated in a doping fraud scandal, the damage to that company’s brand can cost tens of millions.”
Now designated as S-259 in the Senate, the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act is sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, [D-RI].
So far, it is co-sponsored by Sen. Roger F. Wicker [R-MS], Sen. Benjamin L Cardin [D-MD], Sen. Marco Rubio [R-FL], Sen. Patrick J. Leahy [D-VT]. Two Republicans, Two Democrats…can we make this a trend?
It is vital this legislation becomes law. It sets the tone that it is the characters tangling the carrot of fame in front of our athletes, while pushing steroids and other PEDs, are who we should focus on, not necessarily the athletes themselves.
Why not get involved? This is a great way to introduce yourself to your U.S. Senator and push he or she to vote in favor of this important legislation. You can also start the conversation about other issues you have concerns about.
It beats the hell out of howling at the moon. *
WILL XFL FOREGO DRUG TESTING ITS PLAYERS FOR STEROIDS?
Back in April 2019, in a phone interview with Footballstories, XFL CEO and League Commissioner Oliver Luck was asked about the XFL and whether the league planned to test its players for steroids and other PEDs.
Luck said, “We will be testing for PEDs, performance enhancing drugs,” Luck said. “I don’t think we’ve chosen a vendor for that process. I know the WWE, with its athletes and its performers, wrestlers, has a fairly rigid drug testing program.”
When told about the WWE's poor history and criticism it has received with regards to steroids and fatalities among its wrestlers, Luck replied, “Oh sure, he gets lots of criticism, there’s always skepticism,” Luck said after a pause. “I’ll be honest, I don’t have a good grasp of the WWE and their drug testing policies and whatever history they may have. It’s something I just have not felt the need to look into. I think what we will do, in the XFL, is what we believe is appropriate in the world of professional football. That’s the world I live in. I’m just not familiar with much of the drug testing history the WWE has.”
Several recent attempts to follow up with current XFL media relations officials on this matter through emails have gone unanswered. For those who care about this, we'll keep you posted.
PA STATE SENATE RESOLUTION HEADED TO COMMITTEE
A non-binding resolution introduced by Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach that calls for education on Performance Enhancing Drugs at the high school level is being sent to committee for discussion.
The resolution also calls out organizations and individuals including “The Arnold,” IMG’s “World’s Strongest Man” and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
A Dauphin County (PA) coroner spokesperson indicated coroner Graham Hetrick with testify if needed. Hetrick performed the autopsy on IMG’s “World’s Strongest Man” and “Arnold” champion strongman Mike Jenkins, a Pennsylvania resident and former NCAA football player for JMU.
Hetrick certified that Mr. Jenkins poisoned himself to death in late 2013 from long-time steroid use. He was 31 years old and had just competed in the IMG “World’s Strongest Man” competition in China. *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii