US may use Rodchenkov Act to squash unwanted sports rivals: Russian diplomat

A doping probe. Photo: Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MOSCOW, Nov 20, 2020, TASS. The Rodchenkov Act may morph into a dangerous instrument by the United States that could be wielded to stifle global sports achievements, which ‘the US deems as unwanted,’ Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova cautioned on Thursday (Nov 19), TASS reported.

“The most cynical fact right now is that in view of the large-scale and systematic doping abuse in the United States, the Rodchenkov Act has no power over professional North American leagues, namely the NBA, the NHL and the NFL,” the diplomat pointed out.

“Do we have to make any further comments in this regard? Of course, not,” she continued.

“It is obvious that this is another tool put together to undermine global sports achievements, which are unfavorable to the United States,” Zakharova emphasized.

On November 17, the Senate passed the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act (RADA), which empowers the United States to pursue criminal prosecution of violators of anti-doping rules around the world.

The Rodchenkov Act applies to all competitions where the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules are in place, however, professional North American leagues such as the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) won’t be targeted by this law because they are not regulated by the WADA Code.

The act was named after a former director of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, who is positioned as WADA’s chief informer in the case of doping violations in Russian sports. In October, the bill was approved by the House of Representatives. Now the US president has ten days to sign it into law.

Rodchenkov told Western media in the spring of 2016 that Russian athletes largely used performance enhancing drugs at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi with the approval of the national sports authorities.

On the whole, the ex-doping official claimed that Russia’s sports authorities allegedly prepared a special doping program for national athletes in order to win most of the medals at the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014.

The former chief of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory also informed WADA about the so-called list of Russian athletes, who on the eve of the 2014 Winter Olympics allegedly used a doping cocktail that he concocted himself and named after a popular Soviet-era soft drink dubbed the ‘Duchess Cocktail.’

On June 8, 2016, Russia’s Investigative Committee launched a criminal case against Rodchenkov on charges of abuse of power. On September 21, 2017 Moscow’s Basmanny District Court arrested him in absentia.

In November 2017, the Russian Investigative Committee announced that it would seek the extradition of Rodchenkov, who absconded to the United States in 2015. In addition, an obstruction of justice charge was filed against him. He was also put on an international wanted list.

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