Two U.S. congressmen introduced a bill to ensure the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is providing athletes with a fair playing field during investigations of allegations of drug use.
The Athlete Due Process Protection Act of 2012 follows the agency’s punishment of cyclist Lance Armstrong, who decided last month not to fight charges he doped and played a role in the systematic doping of his Tour de France-winning teams. The agency stripped him of his record seven Tour titles and barred him from competing or coaching Olympic sports.
“I am introducing the Athlete Due Process Protection Act to ensure our athletes are provided constitutional due process protections, just like the rest of us,” Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin said in a statement on his website. “As USADA undertakes its critical work to ensure drug-free and fair competition, we also protect the integrity of sports by ensuring our American athletes are provided their full due process rights.”
The act ensures that all athletes are served with written specific charges, are given a reasonable time to prepare their defense and are afforded a full and fair hearing. It also creates new reporting requirements, including a provision that forces the USADA to provide Congress with an annual report summarizing its enforcement activities as well as giving written notice of any amendments to its rules.
‘A Shared Value’
Representative John Conyers, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, said ensuring athletes compete drug-free is “a shared value.”
“But no less critical in ensuring the integrity of sports competition is the protection of individual athletes’ due process rights or adjudication surrounding testing results,” the Michigan congressman said.
Travis Tygart, chief executive of the antidoping agency, said the congressmen should read the federal ruling against Armstrong which shows the agency’s process provides full constitutional due process to every athlete.
“The current process is a result of over a decade of collaboration between the athletes, the national sport federations and the U.S. Olympic Committee, all of which have approved the rules handed to USADA to operate,” Tygart said in a statement, according to the New York Times.