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U.S. House bill threatens Olympic dopers with 10 years in prison, $250K fine

A bill on the U.S. House floor seeks to threaten dopers in international competitions with hefty fines and lengthy prison sentences. (AP)

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering taking drastic measure to curtail doping in international athletic competition.

A bill introduced on the House floor on Tuesday intends to criminalize the use of performance enhancing drugs at international events. The bill seeks to threaten users, manufacturers and distributors of banned substances with a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Athletes competing in events such as the Olympics, World Cup, World Baseball Classic and Ryder Cup could be under scrutiny.

Domestic dopers would not be impacted by bill

The proposed law would not impact dopers in domestic competition such as the NCAA, NFL or MLB. There are various degrees of penalties imposed by leagues and governing bodies, but no legal ramifications for dopers in those sports. The NFL usually hands down a four-game suspension, amounting to a quarter of the league’s season, while MLB generally bans users for 80 games — roughly half a season — in cases involving first-time offenders.

The bill is named after Grigory Rodchenkov, the Russian whistleblower who blew the lid off of Russia’s doping scandal during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Doping bill receives bipartisan support

Sheila Jackson, a Democrat from Texas, introduced the bill. It has bipartisan support from Texas Republican Michael Burgess and Wisconsin Democrat Gwen Moore, who co-sponsored the bill. 

The bill invokes the  United States’ annual $2.3 million contribution to the World Anti-Doping Agency as justification for criminalization, according to the New York Times.

“Doping fraud in major international competitions also effectively defrauds the United States,” the bill reads. 

The bill would also expand the timeframe allowed for civil suits for athletes and corporate sponsors defrauded by doping to up to 10 years.

If passed, the United States would join Germany, Italy and Kenya and Spain among countries with criminal laws against doping in international competition. 

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