Last updated on: 5/10/2021 | Author:

Should Doping Be Criminalized?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

Cyclist, in an undated article, accessed on Apr. 22, 2021, “Should Doping Be Criminalised?,” available at, stated”

“Doping is already a criminal offence in [Austria], France and Italy, but is purely an infringement of sporting rules in the UK and the rest of the world – resulting in a competition ban but no criminal fines or risks of prison time…

The issue begs the question of whether sport be fairer and better if there were steps unilaterally to make doping a crime? Should the world follow suit?

…Interestingly, in Germany and Austria, where doping is criminalised, the model of prosecution is one of fraud, punishing an athlete who benefits financially from doping…

Doping is also illegal in France and Italy. In France it carries up to a €3,750 penalty and a year in prison, but relies on possession or movement of drugs rather than a positive test.

To traffick performance enhancing drugs in Italy or France carries with it substantial penalties, and in past years that’s seen numerous team support staff prosecuted for involvement in doping.

The question remains, though, should doping be a criminal offence for an athlete?”

Apr. 22, 2021

For the text of the the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act of 2019, please visit:

PRO (yes)


Sheila Jackson Lee, JD, US Representative (D-TX), who introduced the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act that criminalized sports doping in Dec. 2020, in a June 12, 2018 statement, “In Support of H.R. 6067 Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act (RADA Act),” available at, stated:

“[I]n the realm of international sports, it has become almost commonplace for too many athletes to yield to the temptation of bridging the gap between their own skill and the pinnacle of athletic achievement by resorting to performance enhancing drugs.

And to conceal this fall from grace, cheaters are employing increasingly sophisticated modes of masking the use of any proscribed drugs.

This practice, some of it state-sanctioned, undermines international athletic competition and is often connected to more nefarious actions by state actors… The RADA Act is a serious step towards cracking down on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in major international competition because it establishes criminal penalties and civil remedies for doping fraud.

A number of other nations, including Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, and Spain, have embraced criminal sanctions for doping fraud violations and it is time for the United States to be added to this list.

Doping fraud in major international competitions—like the Olympics, the World Cup and the Tour de France—is often linked with corruption, bribery and money laundering.

It is not just victory that criminals engaged in doping fraud snatch away from clean athletes—athletes depend on prize money and sponsorships to sustain their livelihoods.

The United States has a large role to play in ferreting out corruption in international sports.”

June 12, 2018


Jerrold Nadler, JD, US Representative (D-NY), in an Oct. 16, 2019 statement, “Chairman Nadler Statement for the Markup of H.R. 835, the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act of 2019,” available at stated:

“The widespread use of performance enhancing substances has come to light in recent years, harming athletes and fans alike. Clean U.S. athletes and sports organizations who participate in these competitions, as well as their U.S. sponsors, are denied their due recognition and economic rewards. And their fans lose when the legitimacy and integrity of the competitions they enjoy are debased.

In recent years, there have been numerous allegations and instances of doping by professional and amateur athletes. The summer and winter Olympic Games, in particular, have been plagued with doping scandals, which has left an indelible stain on the reputation of these major international sports events…

This legislation would fill that gap by establishing appropriate criminal penalties and civil remedies for international doping fraud. In addition to imposing criminal penalties on the conspirators, the bill would authorize private civil actions for doping fraud, which would give athletes and corporate sponsors the right to sue in federal court to recover damages from individuals who may have defrauded competitions.

This bill would provide justice to clean U.S. athletes, such as Olympic runner Alysia Montaño, skeleton racer Katie Uhlaender, bobsledder Steve Holcomb, and many other champions who pursue excellence over glory. They have been denied medals that were rightfully theirs and cheated out of lucrative opportunities, such as sponsorships. Most importantly, they have been deprived of the pride of seeing their country’s flag being raised on the Olympic podium—an emotional moment that was stolen from them.”

Oct. 16, 2019


Travis Tygart, JD, Chief Executive Officer at the USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency), as quoted in a Nov. 17 2020 article, “Senate passes bill that would allow U.S. to pursue doping conspirators abroad,” written by Rick Maese, and available at, stated:

“The [Rodchenkov Anti-Doping] Act establishes criminal penalties for systems that carry out doping-fraud schemes that rob athletes, citizens and businesses. It also protects whistleblowers from retaliation and provides restitution for athletes defrauded by conspiracies to dope. It is a monumental day in the fight for clean sport worldwide and we look forward to seeing the Act soon become law and help change the game for clean athletes for the good.”

Nov. 17 2020


Claire Summer, in a Feb 3, 2017 International Sports Law Journal article, “The Spirit of Sport: The Case for Criminalisation of Doping in the UK,” available at, stated:

“It has been argued that a harm reductionist approach to doping would be dangerous to the health of athletes with youth participants being of particular concern. It has also been contended that an anti-doping stance is necessary to uphold the values of fair-play and equality which underpin the ethos of sport. By upholding these values in a criminal framework, the law could operate to act as a deterrent to other dopers but more importantly could bring back belief in the ‘spirit of sport’. It has been proposed that criminalisation within the UK is viable both theoretically and pragmatically. Criminalisation would be a stronger deterrent to athletes than current sanctions, and retributive justice administered by the independent criminal justice system could alter the public’s perception of sport’s highest achievers. The public’s reaction to the best sporting achievements could shift from ‘doping but not caught’ to ‘clean because not prosecuted’, bring back faith in the truth of the greatest sporting moments and revive the ‘spirit of sport.’”

Feb 3, 2017

CON (no)


Joe Papp, former professional American road racing cyclist and US National cycling team member, as quoted by Cyclist, in an undated article, accessed on Apr. 22, 2021, “Should Doping Be Criminalised?,” available at, stated:

“I strongly oppose the criminalisation of doping by athletes. However, I support the criminalisation and prosecution of those trafficking in doping products… The threat of criminal prosecution isn’t an effective deterrent to doping when the financial and material rewards, especially at elite level, remain so pronounced…

The real deterrent is not the severity of the sanction if caught doping, but rather, increased probability of being caught in the first place…

It potentially undermines the global anti-doping regime in place through WADA, by creating artificial differences in the criminal justice treatment of doping violations by elite and non elite athletes. Under the WADA Code, all athletes face uniform anti-doping rules and possible sanctions.”

Apr. 22, 2021


WADA, in a Nov. 17, 2020 statement, “WADA Statement on U.S. Senate’s Passing of the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act,” available, stated:

“WADA supports Governments who use their legislative powers to protect athletes in the fight against doping in sport. However, while recognizing positive elements of this legislation, WADA and other stakeholders continue to believe that some very important elements of the Act will have unintended consequences and will disrupt the global legal anti-doping framework recognized to date by 190 nations, including the U.S., through the UNESCO International Convention Against Doping in Sport. WADA and many other organizations representing governments and sports around the world, including from within the Council of Europe, the International Olympic Committee and a number of Anti-Doping Organizations, have expressed concerns around the issue of extraterritoriality in the Act as it will undermine the fight against doping worldwide.

No nation has ever before asserted criminal jurisdiction over doping offences that occurred outside its national borders – and for good reason. It is likely to lead to overlapping laws in different jurisdictions that will compromise having a single set of anti-doping rules for all sports and all Anti-Doping Organizations under the World Anti-Doping Code (Code). This will have negative consequences as harmonization of the rules is at the very core of the global anti-doping system.

WADA remains concerned that by unilaterally exerting U.S. criminal jurisdiction over all global doping activity, the Act will likely undermine clean sport by jeopardizing critical partnerships and cooperation between nations. Further, the Act could impede the capacity to benefit from whistleblowers by exposing them to possible prosecution and preventing ‘substantial assistance’ deals in line with the provisions of the Code.

This Act may lead to other nations adopting similar legislation, thereby subjecting U.S. citizens and sport bodies to similar extraterritorial jurisdictions and criminal sanctions, many of which may be political in nature or imposed to discriminate against specific nationalities. This will be detrimental to anti-doping efforts everywhere, including in the U.S.”

Nov. 17, 2020


James Fitzgerald, Senior Manager of Media and Communications at WADA, as quoted in a Nov. 17, 2020 article, “Senate passes bill that would allow U.S. to pursue doping conspirators abroad,” written by Rick Maese, and available at, stated:

“In particular, it [the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act of 2019] may lead to overlapping laws in different jurisdictions that will compromise having a single set of rules for all athletes around the world. This harmonization of rules is at the very core of the global anti-doping program…

WADA wishes also to understand why this legislation excludes vast areas of U.S. sport, in particular the professional leagues and all college sport. If it is not good enough for American sports, why is it fine for the rest of the world?”

Nov. 17, 2020


Tracey Crouch, Member of Parliament and UK Minister for Sport & Civil Society, in the Oct. 2017 foreword to “Review of Criminalisation of Doping in Sport,” available at, stated:

“[A]t this current time, there is no compelling case to criminalise the act of doping in the UK. This also reflects the very strong consensus of those interviewed, including WADA. I am content with this conclusion and do not believe that the Government should take steps to criminalise doping.

These findings do not mean that those doping in sport will be immune from prosecution, as this is already captured by existing legislation through the Misuse of Drugs Act and the Medicines Act 1968, where the trafficking and supply of banned substances carries up to 14 years imprisonment.

While I am confident that the UK has an appropriate legislative and regulatory framework in place to help mitigate and address instances of doping, the Government will continue to take a strong stance in responding to any new developments or emerging threats.”

Oct. 2017