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  • Writer's pictureAl Thompson


Updated: Sep 24, 2019


Footballstories Editor Al Thompson

When Republican Party Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney appeared on ESPN at halftime of Monday Night Football on the eve of the 2012 Presidential election, Romney said his biggest concern for sports in the future revolved around the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

"We've seen some of the greats in the world come down off their pedestal because of performance-enhancing drugs," said Romney, who successfully ran the 2002 Winter Olympics. "We have to continue to battle that. We have to make sure our technology keeps up with the people that are trying to skirt around the law.”

That effort, while noble and aggressive, has had mixed results.

Senator Romney was talking about the athletes and the drug-testing technology that has progressed, but has its limits. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and its American counterpart, United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) are not law enforcement.

These dedicated agencies administer drug tests and suspensions of athletes based on the contracts they have with athletic competitions like the Olympics or federations like the UFC.

There is a new law that has been introduced by Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

It is named H.R. 835 – The Rodchenkov Act or the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act of 2019 (RADA).

It is a law that looks at sports doping as an act of fraud.

The former head of Russia's national anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov is living in the United States in a witness protection program after he reported the complex and extensive nature of Russia's doping program. He helped get Russia banned by WADA from the Olympics in 2016 and 2018 for doping.

During my visit to Washington DC on September 9, 2019, I visited the legislation's drafting organization, the Helsinki Commission.

My contact there said this law would be enforced by the FBI, not the DEA. That it would act to stop the shell game doping rings and athletic federations have played for decades, allowing drugs in sports to fester and grow.

According to my contact, the new law could have significant impact on organizations such as Arnold Schwarzenegger's strength and bodybuilding events held in Columbus, OH every March, as well as IMG's “World's Strongest Man,” held this year in Bradenton, FL. The legislation has a long way to go.

H.R. 835 is co-sponsored by at least 25 members of congress including Michael Burgess, Steve Cohen, Richard Hudson, Diana DeGette, Peter King, Alcee Hastings, Billy Long, Hank Johnson, Chris Smith, Gwen Moore, Brian Fitzpatrick, Bobby Rush, Jim Jordan, Paul Tonko, Yvette Clark, Marcia Fudge, Barbara Lee, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Sanford Bishop, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Danny Davis, Cedric Richmond, James Clyburn, Marc Veasey, Karen Bass and Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan.

I met with Congressman Jordan briefly and had a full meeting with his top staff member about H.R. 835.

I also met with staff of members of several U.S. Representatives including Elise Stefanik (NY), Mike Doyle (PA-18) and Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05). The hope was to get them on board as co-sponsors.

In addition to the NFL, H.R. 835 is endorsed by MLB and the NHL.

H.R. 835 is named after Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia's national anti-doping laboratory, the Anti-Doping Center, which was suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in November 2015 for facilitating Russia's elaborate state-sponsored doping program.

His revelations led to Russia's partial ban from the 2016 Summer Olympics and total ban from the 2018 Winter Olympics. Rodchenkov is currently in witness protection in the United States.

Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan - pictured here with Footballstories editor Al Thompson during a recent trip to Washington DC - is a co-sponsor of H.R. 835 – The Rodchenkov Act. Congressman Jordan's district includes parts of Columbus, home of the "Arnold Fit Expo." "The Arnold" has been rebuked by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives twice for its lack of testing for steroids, rampant steroid use and high fatality rate. Sources at the Helsinki Commission say events like this could be affected by H.R. 835.

H.R. 835 (RADA) will:

* Establish criminal penalties for participating in a scheme in commerce to influence a major international sport competition through prohibited substances or methods. This section applies to all major international sport competitions in which U.S. athletes participate, and where organizing entities receive sponsorship from companies doing business in the United States or are compensated for the right to broadcast their competition there. Penalties will include fines of up to $1,000,000, or imprisonment of up to ten years, depending on the offense.

* Provide restitution to victims of such conspiracies. Athletes and other persons who are victims of major international doping fraud conspiracies shall be entitled to mandatory restitution for losses inflicted upon them by fraudsters and


* Protect whistleblowers from retaliation. By criminalizing participation in a major international doping fraud conspiracy, whistleblowers will be included under existing witness and informant protection laws.

* Establish coordination and sharing of information with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Federal agencies involved in the fight against doping shall coordinate and share information with USADA, whose mission is to preserve the

integrity of competition, inspire true sport, and protect the rights of athletes, to enhance their collective efforts to curb doping fraud.


State Senator Daylin Leach


Senator Leach, representing the 17th senatorial district, since 2009, is about to introduce a nonbinding resolution from the State Senate that will expand on the number of individuals and organizations that continue to promote and glorify steroid use in Pennsylvania and around the country.

In 2014 and 2016, the PA House of Representatives voted on resolutions that rebuked individuals and organizations that promoted the use of steroids and other illegal PEDs.

Leach's legislation will also call for funds to be added to the PA Department of Education's budget that would be set aside for educational programs that would teach student-athletes, athletic directors, coaches, parents and the media about the health and legal risks that go hand-in-hand with steroid use and trafficking.

“This conversation is long overdue,” Leach said recently. “Steroid use is rampant in strongman competitions, in powerlifting and bodybuilding competitions, and other similar events. It’s a prevalent problem and it’s time we take it seriously. That’s why I’m introducing a resolution condemning the use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes and rebuking any organization that knowingly allows and encourages their athletes to use performance-enhancing drugs. Too many of our children are being left with the impression that they have to turn to doping to succeed in professional sports or improve their game – that’s not the case and we need to make that point now.” *

Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii

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