Washington, D.C. – Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), urged fellow members of Congress to support the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act.
His Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
“Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 835, the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, a bill that I introduced with Representative Jackson-Lee to combat international doping schemes.
This bill is named after Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia’s Anti-Doping Agency lab that blew the whistle on the massive, state-run doping scheme that led the International Olympic Committee to suspend Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics. From 2011 to 2015, over 1,000 Russian athletes in 30 sports benefited from an illegal program executed by numerous Russian state agencies at the direction of President Putin.
Another whistleblower, Yuliya Stepanova, revealed information that led to the formation of an Independent Commission at the World Anti-Doping Agency that investigated, finding a “deeply-rooted culture of cheating” existed in Russia. We heard from Yuliya Stepanova and the lawyer for Dr. Rodchenkov during a Helsinki Commission hearing in July 2018. Also present was Katie Uhlaender, who had been defrauded and cheated out of an Olympic medal as a result of the Russian doping scheme. No athlete should be subjected to doping, either through a state-run program or as a clean competitor.
In 2015, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency entered into a Roadmap to Compliance agreement with the World Anti-Doping Agency involving 31 criteria for the Russian Agency to be reinstated. Russia’s agreement to deliver additional drug-test lab samples is one of the reasons the World Anti-Doping Agency agreed to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency in late 2018.
But, just last week the current head of Russia’s Anti-Doping Agency said thousands of changes were made to those drug-test results. The World Anti-Doping Agency had only been able to verify the authenticity of a portion of the provided samples, and these statements confirmed that Russia is still intent on cheating in international sport competitions. The World Anti-Doping Agency is currently considering how to respond, including possibly designating Russia as “noncompliant” and suspending Russian athletes from international sport competitions until the country is again designated as compliant.
But the doping program goes beyond just harming clean athletes. President Putin views this type of illegal scheme as a geopolitical tool to characterize the West as unfair and oppressive. One year ago, the U.S. Justice Department indicted seven Russian military intelligence officials for a cyberattack on U.S. and other international organizations for exposing Russia’s state-run doping scheme and protecting the whistleblowers, namely Dr. Rodchenkov.
The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act would combat this type of illegal doping scheme and also limit Russia’s sphere of influence as they seek to undermine Western values around the world. The bill will criminalize knowingly facilitating a doping scheme in a major international sport competition where U.S. athletes are competing and the competition organizer receives sponsorship or financial support from a U.S. entity. The bill also allows U.S. citizens to pursue civil action against deceptive competition and provides protection for whistleblowers.
The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act will ensure that athletes rights are respected, whistleblowers are protected, and criminals are brought to justice. This bill will restore the integrity of international sport competition and uphold the rule of law around the world. I urge support of this bill.”
After Burgess spoke on the floor, the House of Representatives passed the bill by voice vote.
To view his full remarks, click here.