Former Russian Olympian and anti-doping whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova, left, next to U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart, testifies during a Helsinki Commission hearing on the impact of doping in international sport, Wednesday, July 25, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Hearing points to Putin's role in Russian doping scandal

July 25, 2018 - 5:11 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supporters of a bill that would make it a crime to use or distribute performance-enhancing drugs at international sporting events say the legislation would help deter scandals like Russian state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Witnesses at a congressional hearing Wednesday painted the systematic doping as one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's many attacks on Western values.

Yulia Stepanova, a Russian former track athlete who became a whistleblower about the drug program, says ending doping in her country would have to "start from the top" — with Putin himself.

The bill was named for Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the Russian lab director who exposed the cheating in Sochi. Rodchenkov has said the doping stemmed from Putin's command to his sports ministry to "win at any cost."

Several European countries have passed similar legislation. The bill being considered in the House is stronger because it would allow the United States to police doping that occurs outside its borders. It has bipartisan support but has yet to be introduced in the Senate.