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House passes bill criminalizing doping conspiracies

The House has passed a bill that would criminalize international doping conspiracies, the likes of which tainted the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

The bill, passed Tuesday on a voice vote, was named after Grigory Rodchenkov, the Moscow anti-doping lab director who helped authorities uncover Russia’s methods in a massive cheating scheme.

If passed by the Senate, where it has wide support, the law would call for fines of up to $1 million and prison sentences of up to 10 years for those who participate in schemes designed to influence international sports competitions through doping.

The bill has support of major American sports leagues, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee and the US Anti-Doping Agency, which would gain access to information from cases prosecuted under the law.

Rodchenkov said with the bill’s passage, “the fight against doping rises to a new level of efficacy.”

Matt Every, meanwhile, was suspended for 12 weeks Friday for what the Professional Golfers’ Association Tour said was a violation of its conduct policy on drugs of abuse. Every said it was legal prescription for cannabis to treat mental health.

“To be clear, I tested positive for cannabis, a drug I do not abuse and a drug that I have a legal prescription for in the state of Florida,” Every said in a statement.

Every will be eligible to return January 7 and will miss only three tournaments for which he would have been eligible—the Bermuda Championship, the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico and the RSM Classic at Sea Island.

Every said he knew cannabis was on the tour’s list of banned substances and accepts the penalties. But he offered no apologies for the violation.

Every, a two-time winner at Bay Hill, did not disclose the nature of the mental-health condition. He says cannabis, which is legal in Florida only for medicinal purposes, was prescribed by his doctor who has managed his health for 30 years.

He said it was determined that he is neither an acceptable candidate to use prescription “Z’’ class drugs nor benzodiazepines, drugs he said could be highly addictive and harmful to the body and mind.

“For me, cannabis has proven to be, by far, the safest and most effective treatment,” Every said. “With that being said, I have no choice but to accept this suspension and move on. I knew what WADA’s policy was and I violated it. I don’t agree with it for many reasons, mainly for my overall well-being, but I’m excited for what lies ahead in my life and career.”

The PGA Tour does not comment beyond standard reporting of violations detected through its anti-doping policy, which began in 2008.

Every is the seventh player to be suspended under the policy, not including Vijay Singh, whose suspension was withdrawn. Singh later sued the tour and it was settled before going to trial.

Before his back-to-back victories at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Every was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of drug possession after agents were called to a casino hotel because of a strong odor of marijuana coming from the room he was in. Every said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, though confirmed the tour suspended him for three months.

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