The president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has outlined plans to extend the length of first-time bans from two years to four years for athletes committing serious doping offences.
The proposal is contained in a new draft of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC) and if approved would come into effect from 2015 onwards. It would apply to case involving, among other things, the use of anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, masking agents, trafficking and prohibited methods.
“It is clear from the number of submissions we received, that there is a strong desire in the world of sport, from governments and within the anti-doping community to strengthen the sanction articles in the Code,” explained Fahey.
“This second draft has done that, doubling the length of suspension for serious offenders and widening the scope for anti-doping organizations to impose lifetime bans.
“The Code review is intended to increase the effectiveness of anti-doping, and athletes must know that there is a heavy price to pay for intentional doping, that the risks are high. I am confident this draft will deliver that message loud and clear, and that our own stakeholders will agree.”
The second draft of the WADC will be published on 3 December 2012, with a consultation period for stakeholders running from then until 1 March 2013. There will also be a later opportunity for them to provide input and feedback during the third and final phase of the draft.
Among other changes proposed to the WADC are that the criteria for substances or methods to be included on WADA’s Prohibited List should include that “it must first have the potential to be performance enhancing, and second be either contrary to the spirit of sport or contrary to the health of athletes.”
WADA said that some suggested changes had not made it into the draft, including a suggestion that the B sample be dropped, and that the sanction process for teams should be amended should two or more members test positive. Those provisions will remain unaltered from their preset form.
The agency confirmed that the forthcoming version of the WADC omits Rule 45 of the Olympic Charter, also known as the Osaka rule, which had provided that athletes convicted of a doping offence would not be allowed to take part in the following edition of the Olympic Games.
That rule was successfully challenged last year by 2008 Olympic 400 metres champion LaShawn Merritt, and paved the way for the British Olympic Association lifetime ban to be overturned.
The proposed four year ban would of course have the effect of ensuring that athletes receiving that sanction would not appear in the subsequent Olympic Games depending on how much of it was applied retrospectively.
Fahey also revealed that for the second year running, WADA’s funding would be frozen at around $28 million and warned that unless further funding became available, it would need to look at ways of saving money.
Currently, WADA is funded in equal measure by the Olympic Movement and national governments around the world. The Olympic Movement’ policy is to match governmental contributions dollar for dollar only once thoe have been made.
“This is the second year in a row that we have received a zero-percent increase, and while we appreciate that economies across the world continue to struggle, this freeze is not ideal for the fight against doping in sport,” he said.
“It is widely accepted that doping is a major issue no longer restricted to the sporting world, and that it must be addressed by society as a whole.
“WADA has dipped into reserves over the last two years to cover shortfalls for its operating costs, but if funding continues to remain the same then the Agency will be forced to cut back its activities.”
The WADA president also expressed concerns about the impact of European Union data protection legislation with regards to its potential effect on the submission of information by athletes to anti-doping databases.
“It is important to acknowledge the impact this legislation will have, and it is essential our representatives from Europe report back to us on the steps that are being taken to resolve this potential issue,” he explained.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.