For its part, the World Anti-Doping Agency, which acts as the global leader in the fight against drugs in sports, opposed the Rodchenkov Act, as did the International Olympic Committee, WADA’s leading benefactor, and other international sports organizations.
As the bill was working its way through Congress, Witold Banka, the president of WADA, said if the United States acted alone in criminalizing international doping it would compromise WADA’s efforts to maintain one set of rules for sports everywhere. “This harmonization of rules is at the very core of the global antidoping program,” Banka said.
After Congress approved the bill, Banka and WADA went further and said the law could foster discrimination of athletes from certain countries. Also, the law applies only to schemes connected with sports organizations that are signatories to the WADA code, which sets international standards for testing, investigations, laboratories, exemptions, prohibited drugs, privacy protection and compliance.
That provision excludes American college sports and most of the professional leagues and associations that are based in North America, including the N.F.L., N.BA., Major League Baseball and the N.H.L., except when athletes from those sports are participating in international competitions.
Because drug policies are collectively bargained in the North American pro sports leagues, penalties for doping violations in those organizations are far less stringent than they are for international sports. Professional athletes in the North American leagues who fail doping tests are usually suspended for a portion of a season. International violations usually bring suspensions of at least two years. Also, the professional sports leagues are not signatories to the WADA code, something that has garnered criticism from both WADA and the I.O.C.
“WADA wishes also to understand why this legislation excludes vast areas of U.S. sport, in particular the professional leagues and all college sport,” read a statement from the organization upon the passage of the law. “If it is not good enough for American sports, why is it fine for the rest of the world?”
WADA has also predicted that the Rodchenkov Act may make life more complicated for whistle blowers, who theoretically could be exposed to prosecution if they were participating in the scheme before offering information about it.