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Senator Whitehouse just shook up the Olympics forever

The anti-doping legislation he spearheaded has been signed into law. Here’s what it means

WASHINGTON, D.C. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Nov. 10 on Capitol Hill.Pool/Getty

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Happy Friday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and I think it’s safe to say that the Cam Newton era should be over for the Patriots. Maybe they should have signed Colt McCoy. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 69,247 confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday, after adding 948 new cases. The overall daily test-positive rate was 7 percent, and the first-time positive rate was 28.3 percent. The state announced 14 more deaths, bringing the total to 1,498. There were 466 people in the hospital.


No, US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse will not be entering the break dancing competition at the 2024 Summer Olympics.

But Rhode Island’s junior senator could play a major role in the Olympics for generations now that legislation he spearheaded to impose criminal penalties on those who engage in cheating conspiracies (think steroids) has been signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Whitehouse was the lead Senate sponsor on the Rodchenkov Act, which is named after the man who once ran Russia’s anti-doping program and later admitted to be part of a widespread cheating scandal. If you haven’t seen the documentary “Icarus” on Netflix, it’s worth watching this weekend.

The legislation is pretty straightforward. It states that criminal penalties of up to 10 years in prison and/or heavy fines can be assessed to anyone who is convicted of attempting to influence a major international sport competition through prohibited substances or methods.

”The thing an athlete wants more than anyone else is to feel that their talents in fair competition were rewarded,” Whitehouse said this week. “And if somebody beats them fair and square, that may be disappointing, but that’s competition.”


While the legislation includes a special carve out specifically for individual athletes (if they are cheating all by themselves), Whitehouse said that doesn’t mean that they can’t be charged as part of a broader conspiracy. Officials in Russia have criticized the bill because it doesn’t apply to professional leagues in the US.

The bill is significant. Doping is only going to get more sophisticated in the coming years, and we’ve already seen how far some countries, teams, and groups are willing to go to win. While the Olympic committee has always had the ability to strip winners of their medals, criminal penalties might make individuals think twice before participating in these schemes.

The Summer Olympics were expected to be held in Tokyo over the summer, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the games to be postponed until summer 2021.


⚓ Governor Gina Raimondo is extending Rhode Island’s economic pause for another week as the state continues to have the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases in the country. Read more.

⚓ My colleague Amanda Milkovits reports that Attorney General Peter Neronha has established a special civil rights team to focus on investigating and prosecuting hate crimes and police misconduct. Read more.

⚓ Cate McQuaid has an interesting look at former Providence resident David Cole’s fiery new art work. Read more

⚓ Ernest P. Baptista, whose sage political advice was sought by most prominent Democrats in Rhode Island over the last few decades, died unexpected last weekend. He was 70. Make sure you take a minute to read this obit. Read more.


⚓ Rhode Map readers have sent a round of Happy Birthday wishes to: Grace Santilli (22), Theresa DoughertyGabe AmoJacob Nicolato (13), Scott MacKayTony Alario (80), state Representative Brian NewberryMichael CerioErik Andersen (37), Kevin HivelyBob Pacheco Jr. (60), Gabe Long (35), Tom Ahern (63), Cathy Schleif (71), Jack VanderbeckJakub Lis (25), and Josh Cianciolo.


 Politics: My colleague James Pindell has a smart piece on why you should be watching President Trump’s actions in his final days in office rather than listening to his words. Read more.

⚓ Health: Experts now believe the Biogen conference in Boston earlier this year could be connected to 300,000 COVID-19 cases. Read more.

⚓ Education: Former Providence Phoenix editor David Scharfenberg writes that Massachusetts needs to treat its segregated schools problem as the crisis it is. Read more.

⚓ Sports: It looks like the playoff streak for the Patriots might finally come to an end after last night’s loss to the Rams. Read more.


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

⚓ At 1:30 p.m., infectious disease specialist Dr. Philip A. Chan will participate in a Facebook Live discussion on the COVID-19 vaccine with the Rhode Island Department of Health.

⚓ The Globe’s Women & Leadership series continues today at 1 p.m. with a virtual conversation between Globe CEO Linda Henry and former UN Ambassador Samantha Power.

⚓ If you need something to do this weekend, check out the drive-through Holiday Lights Spectacularin Roger Williams Park.

⚓ There’s talk that Santa himself will be at CCRI Warwick today between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. to college letters from children.


⚓ Do you ❤ Rhode Map? Your subscription is what makes it possible. We’ve got a great offer here

Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.