Russia Passes Anti-Doping Bill With “Zero-Tolerance” And “Jail Time” Approach

Nov 4, 2016

The Russian Duma passed an anti-doping bill yesterday which emphasizes a zero-tolerance approach to those found guilty of pressuring athletes into taking performance enhancing drugs (PED).

The TASS news agency in Russia reported that coaches, doctors, or other personnel found responsible for coercing athletes into taking PED, regardless of consent, will face a string of potential punishments. The offender could be saddled with a fine of one million rubles, or receive a restriction of their freedom for up to two years, or spend one year in jail.

Additionally, those found guilty could face a period of “professional disqualification” for up to four years.

The bill, which boasts the likes of United Russia and the Liberal Democratic Part of Russia legislators as it’s authors, has reportedly been “eased somewhat after Government-proposed amendments,” according to a report from Inside The Games. 

Currently Russia is still suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations and the International Paralympic Committee after the McLaren Report revealed systematic doping occurring throughout the country, especially in regards to their hosting of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Alexander Zhukov, Russian Olympic Committee President, is a strong proponent of the bill urging the Russian Government to improve the final version of the bill quickly. Zhukov explained,

The Government needs, within the shortest time possible, to approve and make public the list of banned preparations because this law stipulates a very serious degree of criminal liability, imprisonment and removal from profession. That is why, it is necessary to make things clear as quickly as possible. 

Zhukov continued by stating,

This emphasizes once again that our state policy is zero-tolerance attitude towards doping, first and foremost, towards the coaches who coerce juvenile athletes into using illicit drugs.

Responses to the bill appear to be varied as some believe it to be more of a rhetorical gesture instead of a genuine attempt to improve anti-doping procedures before the release of the second half of the McLaren Report, due out in December. Many officials, however, have hailed the bill as a “key step” in improving the country’s standing following the first edition of the McLaren Report and the subsequent proceedings.