UK Anti-Doping have expressed doubts about how a new law criminalising doping would affect British athletes after it was passed by the United States Senate.
Nicole Sapstead, UKAD’s chief executive, “welcomed” some of the elements of the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, which will allow US justice officials to pursue anyone involved in doping at events worldwide involving American athletes, sponsors or broadcasters.
But she echoed concerns raised by the World Anti-Doping Agency that the act would “compromise having a single set of rules for all athletes around the world” and revealed UKAD would examine its implications for British competitors.
She said: “For the first time, steps have been taken to hold sponsors, including multinational companies, accountable when it comes to their association with athletes, teams or support personnel who are involved in doping; and this is to be welcomed. When it comes to protecting clean sport, sponsors and event organisers must play their part.
“However, the rules implemented by the World Anti-Doping Agency were designed to create one set of global anti-doping rules and we will be looking at what the Act means for British athletes competing in the US.”
Sapstead also said she would not want doping criminalised in the UK, something the Government ruled out three years ago following calls for it to make it such an offence.
“We believe there is more that could be done to provide UKAD with necessary powers without formally criminalising doping in sport,” she said.
On Tuesday, Wada reiterated its opposition to the Rodchenkov Act, which was named after Grigory Rodchenkov, the drug-cheat doctor turned whistle-blower at the centre of the Russian doping scandal.
It said: “Wada and many other organisations representing governments and sports around the world, including from within the Council of Europe, the International Olympic Committee and a number of anti-doping organisations, have expressed concerns around the issue of extraterritoriality in the act as it will undermine the fight against doping worldwide.
“No nation has ever before asserted criminal jurisdiction over doping offences that occurred outside its national borders – and for good reason. It is likely to lead to overlapping laws in different jurisdictions that will compromise having a single set of anti-doping rules for all sports and all anti-doping organisations under the World Anti-Doping Code (Code). This will have negative consequences as harmonisation of the rules is at the very core of the global anti-doping system.”
“Wada remains concerned that by unilaterally exerting US criminal jurisdiction over all global doping activity, the act will likely undermine clean sport by jeopardising critical partnerships and cooperation between nations. Further, the act could impede the capacity to benefit from whistle-blowers by exposing them to possible prosecution and preventing ‘substantial assistance’ deals in line with the provisions of the code.”
Wada president Witold Banka also questioned why the original draft of the bill included US professional sport leagues and college athletes but they were later removed, adding: “If it is not good enough for American sports, why is it being imposed on the rest of the world?”
But Travis Tygart, the chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the man who brought down Lance Armstong and Sir Mo Farah’s former coach, Alberto Salazar, said: “The act will provide the tools needed to protect clean athletes and hold accountable international doping conspiracies that defraud sport, sponsors and that harm athletes.
“The act establishes criminal penalties for systems that carry out doping-fraud schemes that rob athletes, citizens and businesses. It also protects whistle-blowers from retaliation and provides restitution for athletes defrauded by conspiracies to dope.
“It is a monumental day in the fight for clean sport worldwide and we look forward to seeing the act soon become law and help change the game for clean athletes for the good.”