Vadim Tyulpanov, a senator representing Russia’s second largest city, St. Petersburg, has proposed amendments to the criminal code to include articles on criminal responsibility for doping in sports. Tyulpanov also proposed amending the criminal code for those dealing in banned substances designed to enhance performance of athletes.
A draft law was prepared by the senator according to which officials who are found responsible for monitoring anti-doping rules in sports could face fines of up to 200,000 rubles (about US$3,000 at current rates), up to one year of limited personal freedom or up to one year of correction labor for violation of the rules on the transportation or sale of any drugs that contain substances banned for use in sports.
The proposed law also suggested medics, coaches, or other specialists who work professionally with athletes may face even stricter punishment for coercing them into using banned substances. Under the proposed draft law, such behavior should be punished with fines up to 500,000 rubles, or by the amount of the income of the convict for up to three years, as well as up to five years behind bars. Tyulpanov remarked his initiative to prevent sports doping was associated with a series of doping scandals that resulted from the revelations of doping use by top Russian athletes in most of which coaches and medics have pressed the athletes they were working with into using banned substances.
The St. Petersburg senator also remarked the new anti-doping motion when passed could preserve the health of athletes, boost the prestige of Russian athletes on the international arena, and help in observing the moral norms accepted in sports.
Russia has been hit with two major scandals in recent past. In March this year, many athletes tested positive for Meldonium – a drug that had been legal before January 1 this year. Russian President Vladimir Putin held Russia’s Ministry of Sport liable for the situation. Putin sharply criticized the Ministry of Sport for failing to react in a timely manner to the introduction of the ban. Government ministers were urged by Putin to cooperate more actively with the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) so that Russia can avoid such incidents in the future. Putin went on to remark that most Russian athletes have nothing to do with doping and clean athletes should not suffer from such scandals.
The second big scandal to hit Russia came from Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory, who told reporters in the United States that he had personally developed and executed a program that allowed Russian team members to use banned substances during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The ex-official mentioned some of the biggest names in sports including cross-country skier Alexander Legkov, skeleton champion Alexander Tretyakov, and bobsledder Alexander Zubkov.
Reacting to Rodchenkov’s claims, Russian Deputy Sports Minister Yury Nagornykh said it seems like Rodchenkov might have unrealized creative ambitions or might be dissatisfied with his current position. Nagornykh remarked the ex-official might hold a grudge against the Russian anti-doping system.