Russia passes tough anti-doping bill
MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian Parliament adopted an anti-doping bill Thursday that includes prison terms for coaches found guilty of coercing young athletes into using performance-enhancing drugs.
The bill, passed unanimously by the State Duma, comes ahead of the publication of a fuller version of World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren‘s report into doping in Russia.
Under the new law, coaches or sports officials could be liable for fines up to 300,000 rubles ($4,700) or up to a year in prison in cases where young athletes are coerced into doping.
The bill calls for extra punishments in cases where athletes are forced to dope using threats or violence, or if an athlete suffers severe health problems as a result. There are no sanctions for athletes who dope.
Alexander Zhukov, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee who also has a Duma seat, said the bill confirms Russia’s stance against doping “especially toward coaches who coerce underage athletes to use banned substances.”
The bill is also “an answer to our foreign critics who accused our country of a certain supposed government project to support doping,” Zhukov added in comments reported by the Tass state news agency.
Track and field’s world governing body, the IAAF, had urged Russia to consider criminalizing doping as part of a series of conditions to reinstate the Russian track and field federation. The IAAF banned the Russians from international competition last year after receiving evidence of systematic drug use. As a result, only one member of the Russian track team was allowed to compete at this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
McLaren’s first report in July accused Russian government officials of colluding to cover up hundreds of failed drug tests with the assistance of a corrupt laboratory official. A second part of the report is expected next month.