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Russian Federation: Legislation Adopted Penalizing Use and Distribution of Prohibited Substances in Sports

(May 28, 2019) On May 1, 2019, the Russian Federation adopted the Law on Amending Articles 3.5 and 6.18 of the Code of Administrative Violations, which prescribes fines for athletes who use doping. (Federal’nii Zakon ot 05-01-2019 No. 96-FZ О Vnesenii Izmeninii V Stat’i 3.5 i 6.18 Kodeksa Rossiiskoi Federatsii ob Administrativnikh Pravonarusheniyakh [Federal Law No. 96 of May 1, 2019, on Amending Articles 3.6 and 6.18 of the Code of Administrative Violations], official Russian legal information portal Pravo.) As explained by a legislator in the State Duma (lower chamber of the Russian legislature), the new Law does not eliminate existing criminal liability for inducing an athlete to use doping; it is an additional measure for preventing doping in Russian sports. (Tatyana Zamakhina, Athletes Will Be Fined For Doping, ROSIISKAYA GAZETA (Apr. 11, 2019) (in Russian).)  Additionally, as stated in the explanatory note of the Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building of the State Duma, where the Law was drafted, the amendments are necessary to bring legislation of the Russian Federation into compliance with the Anti-doping Code adopted by World Anti-doping Agency in 2015. (Federal’nii Zakon ot 05-01-2019 No. 96-FZ О Vnesenii Izmeninii V Stat’i 3.5 i 6. 18 Kodeksa Rossiiskoi Federatsii ob Administrativnikh Pravonarusheniyakh. Poyasnitel’naya Zapiska K Zakonoproektu. (Komitet Gosudarstvenoi Dumi po Konstitutsionnomu Zakonodate’stvu i Gosudarstvennomu Stroitel’stvu) [Federal Law of January 25, 2019, No. 96-FZ, on Amending Articles 3.6 and 6.18 of the Code of Administrative Violations. Explanatory Note (Committee of the State Duma on Constitutional Legislation and State Building)], State Duma website.)

The Law for the first time establishes personal liability of athletes for doping by prescribing different penalties for using drugs and for distributing drugs. According to the Law, the intentional use or attempted use of prohibited substances by athletes is punishable by a fine of 30,000–50,000 rubles (RUB) (aboutUS$410–680). (Federal Law on Amending Articles 3.6 and 6.18 of the Code of Administrative Violations art. 16.8 § 1.) Distribution of the prohibited substances by an athlete, coach, sports medicine specialist, or other sports specialist is punishable by a fine of RUB40,000–80,000 (about US$545–1100). (Id. § 2.)

Critics of the Law claim that the penalty amounts are so negligible that any successful athlete could easily pay the fine to avoid disqualification and that, since the Law’s adoption, no court cases are known to have been brought against athletes accused of doping, and no other efficient enforcement measures have been adopted to enforce criminal liability for inducing athletes to dope. Accordingly, these critics point out, enforcing fines might prove problematic. (Natalya Maryanchik, The Fine for Doping is 50 Thousand. Is It Punishment or Profanation?, SPORT EXPRESS (Apr. 4, 2019) (in Russian).)

Repeated doping violations by Olympic athletes of the Russian Federation caused the Russian National Team to be banned from the winter Olympic Games of 2018. Only 168 athletes were subsequently allowed to compete as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” (Russia Passes Amendments to Fine Athletes Caught Doping, ASSOCIATED PRESS NEWS (Apr 11, 2019).)