What Is Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act of 2019?

The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act of 2019 is a new Federal statute designed to impose criminal penalties on those involved in international athletic doping conspiracies.

Introduced in the U.S. Senate in 2019 by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, it aims to provide restitution for victims and to require the sharing of information with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

The statute provides extraterritorial jurisdiction to investigators and prosecutors pursuing those behind athletic doping conspiracies, allowing the extension of U.S. law to events overseas in which U.S. athletes participate.

As reported by the Washington Post, some view the statute as vaguely drafted and difficult to enforce, while U.S. law enforcement views the law as a valuable new tool.

What, however, does the statute actually say?

What Acts Are Penalized under The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act?

The statute states that it is now unlawful for any non-athlete to carry into effect—or conspire with any other person to carry into effect—a scheme to influence any major international sports competition by use of a prohibited substance.

Who is an “athlete,” then, for purposes of this Act?

The Act refers to the definition of the term codified in the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization International Convention Against Doping in Sport. That Convention defines “athlete” as

… any person who participates in sport at the international or national level as defined by each national anti-doping organization and accepted by States Parties and any additional person who participates in a sport or event at a lower level accepted by States Parties.

In short, depending upon the competition in question, there is room for argument as to whether an individual participant falls under the umbrella of “athlete” for purposes of this Act.

The Act defines a “major” international sports competition as one in which one or more U.S. athletes and three or more athletes from other countries participate and for which the competition organizer or sponsoring body either receives sponsorship or financial support from an organization doing business in the U.S. or receives compensation for the right to broadcast the competition in the U.S.

Major international sports competitions also include individual events or a series of events held at different times which, when combined, qualify an athlete or team for “an award or other recognition” under this Act.

This is a very broad sweep.

Crucially, the Rodchenkov Act extends extraterritorial jurisdiction to the above offenses. This means that those charged under this Act can be prosecuted in a U.S. courtroom

Thus, this Act may apply, for example, to a tennis match played in Sydney as a qualifier to the Australian Open in which only a single U.S. athlete participates—simply because the match is broadcast on ESPN at 2:00 AM.

Criminal Penalties under The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act

Violations under this Act are punishable with a 10-year prison sentence, a $250,000 fine for individuals or $1,000,000 fine for non-individuals (organizations, States, corporate entities, etc.)—or both.

Additionally, any personal property or real estate used in conjunction with offenses under the Rodchenkov Act may be forfeited to the United States.

Those convicted under the Act may also be subject to a mandatory order of restitution to victims of such criminal schemes.

Statute of Limitation

The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act carries a 10-year statute of limitations, running from the date on which the offense was completed.

However, this limitation may be suspended if a court finds than an official request is made by the prosecution for evidence located in a foreign country.

What Inspired the Enactment of the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act?

Section 2 of the Act describes the Congressional “findings” behind the enactment of the statute.

In short, Congress determined that doping fraud conspiracies in major international sports competitions were widespread enough and harmful enough to U.S. interests that a more stringent and specific source of legal authority to respond to such incidents.

Additionally, the ratification of the World Anti-Doping Code by the U.S. created a legal obligation to adopt appropriate measures to enforce its terms.


The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act of 2019 represents a significant extension of U.S. jurisdiction into international territories.

However, in terms of the practicability of prosecution, the question will remain the level of cooperation U.S. investigators and prosecutors are likely to receive from international athletic bodies and other World Anti-Doping Code signatories.

If you have questions about The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act of 2019, contact us to schedule a conversation.

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