Fight against doping
Donald Trump signs a law that could also affect Switzerland
In the future, the US judiciary wants to be the first country in the world to take action against doping schemes. You just turn a blind eye to your stars.
It’s not so bad. Two smart government officials from the United States took a round of appeasement on Thursday. At a meeting of the Council of Europe, they explained the purpose and impact of the new US doping law. The “Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Law” bears the name of a Russian informant who, as head of the Moscow Control Laboratory, masterminded the fraud in state sports and later dropped them.
Systematic Russian doping was the origin of the new US legislation. For the Americans, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) response has been inconclusive and very slow. This is why the United States now considers itself a global cop when it comes to anabolic steroids. The law also functions as a political tool.
The eyes of the American judiciary are everywhere, not in their homeland
When the business interests of American athletes or sponsors active in the United States are affected by a sports conspiracy, the state can initiate new measures. For the first time, a country asserts jurisdiction for doping violations outside its national borders.
What’s disturbing is that professional sports in the United States such as the National Hockey League or the National Basketball Association and the nearly 500,000 athletes in college sports are not covered by the new law. It is measured in arms.
With the signature of Donald Trump, the law recently entered into force. It provides criminal penalties for all persons involved in international doping plots. This, with buses of up to $ 1 million and up to 10 years in prison.
Lots of vibrations in the sports world about the US approach
The law is the main issue in the world of anti-doping. There are supporters of the American approach, like Ireland, there are fierce opponents, and there are actors who take a different view through the United States. Switzerland is one of them.
Ernst Koenig, Director of Antidoping Switzerland, generally welcomes laws that also target the doping athlete’s environment and intervene where there are limits for sports organizations. But he is troubled by the fact that a significant portion of sport is excluded in the USA and he fears the global impact of the law will further complicate investigations.
The two high-ranking officials from the United States reaffirmed their government’s willingness to cooperate in the Council of Europe’s doping investigations. With a specific reference to Switzerland, they cited coordinated work with the Federal Prosecutor’s Office against FIFA 2015 as an example.
Caught in the clutches of justice on a trip to the United States
Another case refers to an expert in sports criminal law, who explicitly warns of the law’s far-reaching implications. It reminds us of the UBS bankers who were arrested upon entering the US.
For example, Swiss doping investigators like Ernst Koenig, who are working on a case that piqued the interest of the US judiciary, may be pressured in the future to testify in a US court – if necessary when crossing the border into the US. Because the law explicitly requires mandatory exchange of information.
The expert believes that the extraterritorial effect is the greatest risk with the possible consequences of the US legislation. Wada also strongly criticizes this point. After all, it is mandated by the international sport and the international community to fight doping around the world. The US approach is inconsistent with their mandate.
Competency debate is programmed. In a case like Operation Aderlass in Germany, which involved doping in cycling and cross-country skiing, three parties could investigate the future: the doping authority, the German state, and the US judiciary.
Conflicts like these may become more complex. Then, when governments like Russia or China follow the American model and also want to play the role of global doping police. Just imagine Russia is trying to protect the rights of Russian hockey players in the NHL this way.
Whistleblowers lose proven guarantees of protection
The new law also affects whistleblowers. So far, Wada has been able to provide perspective and security to these whistleblowers. Now it has to indicate that it has no influence over the US judicial process and that a closed deal may be lost. Potential criminal prosecution in the United States is likely to deter potential whistleblowers.
According to experts, an international sporting event like Weltklasse Zürich could also be targeted by the US judiciary in the event of a major doping case during an athletics meeting. At worst, Chairman Andreas Heidegger could be sued for lack of due diligence and he could face a nasty surprise on his way to a California vacation on the US border.
Heidegger could not imagine this happening to him. “The violation of the duty of care as a regulator when athletes are allowed to start from a sports point of view is simply not possible.”
In particular, the co-director of Weltklasse Zürich notes that everything is being done against doping “this is our power. For example, athletes who have a doping past do not receive an entry fee from us.” Of course, the development of Rodchenkov’s law is closely followed. But Hediger definitely isn’t afraid of the upcoming US trip.
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