athlete violating the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping ActNamed after the Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, whose revelations helped expose Russia's state-sponsored doping program, the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act allows U.S. prosecutors to pursue criminal charges against individuals involved in doping schemes at major global sports events.

In the guide below, our international anti-doping lawyers explain how this Act was passed and what effect it could have on athletes in the future.

A Brief History of the Rodchenkov Act

In 2014, Grigory Rodchenkov, then the director of Russia's anti-doping laboratory, fled to the United States. Rodchenkov provided extensive evidence to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) about an elaborate doping scheme that was run by the Russian government leading up to and during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. This included swapping out tainted urine samples from Russian athletes with clean samples through a hole in the wall at the Sochi drug testing lab.

Rodchenkov’s whistleblowing efforts exposed one of the largest doping scandals in sports history. It led to Russia being banned from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games and its athletes having to compete under neutral flags in International Events. While international sports bodies like the International Olympic Committee took disciplinary actions, there was a lack of legal recourse for national law enforcement agencies to prosecute the orchestrators of such doping plots criminally.

In 2019, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Orrin Hatch introduced the Rodchenkov Act to promote clean sport by giving U.S. prosecutors a way to criminally charge coaches, agents, and other conspirators behind doping schemes. The Act went into effect in December 2020.

Penalties for violating the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act can include up to 10 years imprisonment and fines of $250,000 dollars for individuals and $1 million for organizations.

How Does the Act Affect Elite Athletes?

The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act is intended to go after the organizers and enablers of doping schemes rather than the athletes themselves. The text of the Act states:

“It shall be unlawful for any person, other than an athlete, to knowingly carry into effect, attempt to carry into effect, or conspire with any other person to carry into effect a scheme in commerce to influence by use of a prohibited substance or prohibited method any major international sports competition.”

However, there are a few key things our international sports law attorneys recommend elite athletes in the U.S. know about this legislation:

  • Criminal charges can be filed against support staff or advisors. The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act allows U.S. prosecutors to bring criminal charges against coaches, agents, nutritionists, therapists, or other individuals involved in a doping conspiracy connected to a major international sports event.
  • Doping schemes can be prosecuted even when they occur outside the United States. Importantly, the Act allows U.S. prosecutors to pursue cases even if the alleged doping activities occurred outside the United States, as long as there is a connection to American athletes, broadcasters, or sponsors participating in the event.
  • If you report doping schemes, you’re entitled to whistleblower protection. The Act has provisions to provide whistleblower protections and rewards for individuals who come forward with information about doping schemes. This incentivizes people involved in doping plots to become informants.
  • No prison time under the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act doesn’t mean athletes are not responsible for their own actions. Athletes who use banned performance-enhancing substances still face disciplinary actions and sanctions from sports governing bodies and anti-doping agencies, even though they cannot be criminally prosecuted under the Rodchenkov Act itself. However, they may receive a reduction in their period of ineligibility if they decide to become whistleblowers and provide Substantial Assistance to the relevant anti-doping organization.

Have You Been Accused of Violating the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act?

If you have been accused of violating anti-doping rules, please contact our International anti-doping attorneys by clicking the button below or by calling us directly at +1-207-747-5899 to schedule a consultation with one of our international anti-doping lawyers.

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When it comes to anti-doping rule violations, you simply can't afford to take any chances. Not only are your career and reputation at stake—so are your lifelong dreams. Our firm is devoted to sports law and has represented athletes from over 60 countries spanning nearly every sports category. Let experienced anti-doping attorneys Paul Greene and Matthew Kaiser help you protect your ability to compete in the sport you love.