Russia plans to fine athletes who get caught doping, though the scheme may not be much of a deterrent for the country’s top performers.
The Russian parliament voted Thursday to impose a maximum fine of 50,000 rubles ($1,035) for any athlete caught taking banned substances.
Russia has been embroiled in doping scandals for years, including allegations of a mass cover-up by the host nation at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Previously, only those who helped others could be fined for doping, though that legislation has been used rarely, if at all.
Under the new rule, only athletes deemed to have intentionally cheated would be subject to fines.
“Breaking anti-doping rules does not only contradict the principles of honesty and humanism, but in fact also is a kind of fraud,” Pavel Krashennikov, a lawmaker who backed the measure, said in a statement.
While most countries treat doping as a civil matter, people caught using performance-enhancing drugs in some countries face potential jail sentences if they are deemed to have won prize money by deceit. Austrian police arrested five skiers at the Nordic world championships in February in a blood-doping case which has since spread to cycling and other sports.
International anti-doping watchdogs haven’t always welcomed the involvement of Russian law enforcement. An ongoing Russian investigation into doping and malpractice at the Moscow anti-doping laboratory has sealed off many stored samples that the World Anti-Doping Agency wants to test.
The Russian investigation in that case has also argued that Russian athletes didn’t use performance-enhancing drugs at the 2014 Olympics, as WADA maintains, and that WADA’s star witness was in fact coercing otherwise clean athletes to use drugs.
Russia’s team was barred from last year’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang for repeated doping violations, but 168 competitors from the country were allowed to compete as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”
Of those, two were later disqualified for doping, more than any other country.