On February 28, lawmakers in the House of Representatives conducted a hearing for the strengthening of anti-doping controls in international sports in preparation for the 2018 Winter Olympics. The Oversight and Investigations subcommittee that hosted the hearing is under the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has jurisdiction over sports. Some of the witnesses that spoke at the hearing were Olympic gold medalist and record-breaker Michael Phelps, CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency Travis Tygart, and Medical Director of the International Olympic Committee Richard Budgett.
Measures for tightening anti-doping control have been in the works since the last Olympic Games, held in Rio de Janeiro in the summer of 2016, when global sports officials called for the exclusion of Russia from the Olympics after learning the nation had blatantly violated anti-doping controls at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. Following the report of Russia’s systematic cover-up by the nation’s former anti-doping lab chief, a Senate subcommittee questioned the top official of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the global regulator of drugs in international sports. Since WADA relies on the funding from national governments and the Olympic committee in order to operate, and receives over 2 million dollars from the US, the agency has been very vocal in recent months about working with Congress to reform the anti-doping system so similar events do not occur again.
In addition to action from Congress, the International Olympic Committee has also created two new committees of its own to investigate doping in Russia and pursue further sanctions against the country. In light of the current relationship that the Trump administration is having with Russia, this hearing grants some assurance that Russia is being held accountable for its actions in at least the athletic sphere.