Russia Makes Doping Criminal Offence

Russian Anti-Doping legislation will be tightened, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said yesterday at the international forum "Russia - Country of Sports".

Criminal liability will be introduced for coaches / doctors. The bill has already passed the first reading.

"Russia has committed itself to correct shortcomings in the fight against doping. In the near future, we'll adopt legislation criminalizing encouragement to dope and the proliferation of doping", said Deputy Prime Minister.

Earlier Vladimir Putin made even a stronger statement: "We decided to support the tightening of the law - increase the liability and adopt legislation to ease the use of the investigative techniques, give our law enforcement agencies the right to use the investigative methods in detection of doping, its use and circulation".

Russia's intention to tackle the problem is quite interesting.

Let's assume that an athlete is caught doping. S/he has four options: 1) say that s/he deliberately used the banned substance on his/her own initiative but without the knowledge of the coach; 2) say that s/he used the dope knowingly and with the knowledge of the coach; 3) say that s/he did not know about the drug, s/he merely took what the coach gave him/her; 4) say that s/he obtained the substance on his/her own initiative but did not know that this was a prohibited substance.

In the first case, the athlete is likely to face disqualification and forfeiture of awards and titles.

In the second case, both the athlete and the coach will be disqualified.

In the third case, the athlete has a chance to avoid disqualification and keep titles but the coach will go to jail for up to five years along with lifelong disqualification.

In the fourth case, the athlete will likely get off lightly with temporary disqualification and the coach will avoid any punishment at all.

The law puts coaches at the mercy of the sportsmen. Can they be sure that their protégés would not testify against them when it gets really tough?