Today Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner, former Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and John Conyers, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee and also a former Chair of the Committee, introduced the Athlete Due Process Protection Act of 2012, a bipartisan bill that will strengthen the United States Anti-Doping Agency's (USADA) ability to ensure a fair playing field in sports.
Sensenbrenner: "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. 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. This legislation will strengthen our national commitment to a fair playing field for all our American athletes in sports."
Conyers: "Today I am pleased to co-sponsor the Athlete Due Process Protection Act of 2012, legislation to ensure that our American athletes -- just like every other U.S. citizen -- is accorded the full measure of due process constitutional protections when issues arise surrounding the important drug testing functions of USADA. Ensuring that our athletes compete vigorously but drug-free is a shared value of all in this body and all Americans as promoting the integrity of sports competition. 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 Act ensures that all athletes are (1) served with written specific charges, (2) given a reasonable time to prepare their defense, and (3) afforded a full and fair hearing. It also creates new reporting requirements. USADA must provide Congress with an annual report summarizing its enforcement activities and must provide congress with written notice when it amends its rules.
In Justin Gatlin vs. USADA, et. al., a United States District Court agreed with athlete Justin Gatlin that USADA was violating Gatlin's rights under the Americans with Disability Act. Nonetheless, the court found that it was powerless to protect his rights. The court wrote, "the result of this determination is quite troubling because Mr. Gatlin is being wronged, and the United States Courts have no power to right the wrong perpetrated upon one of its citizens."