Drug cheats will face a minimum four-year ban instead of two years after rule changes ratified by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which has also elected Britain’s Sir Craig Reedie as its new president.
The change to the sanctions, effective from January 2015, will see athletes who take performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids, the blood-boosting agent EPO and human growth hormone face the longer bans, meaning they would miss at least one Olympic Games.
Reedie takes charge
It should be a significant step in the campaign against doping which will be headed by Reedie, an International Olympic Committee vice-president from Stirling in Scotland, who was elected to succeed outgoing president John Fahey, from Australia.
A former president of the British Olympic Association, Reedie has served on WADA’s foundation board since its inception in 1999, and he told the WADA conference in Johannesburg: “It’s a very great honour and I would be delighted to take up this job.”
Outgoing WADA president Fahey, said of the rule changes: “This is a good day for sport. We now have a code which, I believe, offers the best response to combating the scourge of doping yet: stronger sanctions while maintaining flexibility, greater investigative powers for WADA, a stronger focus on the sharing of information between the sport movement and governments, intelligent testing and risk assessment and fair consideration of an athlete’s human rights.”
There will be flexibility in the bans for those who fail tests due to taking contaminated supplements.
Meanwhile, concerns have been raised over standards at the testing laboratory in Moscow, which is due to handle samples for next year’s winter Olympics in Sochi.
WADA is holding a hearing to deal with the concerns and the lab could have its accreditation suspended. Earlier this year, WADA stripped the Rio lab of its accreditation and all samples from next year’s football World Cup will be sent to Switzerland for analysis.
WADA’s revised code was agreed at its conference in Johannesburg, and it also gives stronger powers to punish coaches and trainers who help athletes cheat. Another key change is WADA will now be able to tell sports which banned substances they should be testing for.