October 28, 2014
Four-year ban for drug cheats could be extended, confirms president of World Anti-Doping Agency
The new four-year ban for drugs cheats could be extended again if performance-enhancing substances can be proven to confer long-term benefits, the World Anti-Doping Agency president has confirmed.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, Sir Craig Reedie revealed that he would explore the possibility of even tougher penalties for athletes who fail dope tests should evidence of the effect of steroids on animals be duplicated in humans.
Research emerged this month that established muscles can retain the advantages of anabolic steroids decades after being taken. The study, conducted on mice, cast doubt on the legitimacy of the performances of athletes such as the sprinter Justin Gatlin, who is running more quickly than ever since returning from the second of his doping bans.
It also strengthened the case for the doubling of the two-year suspension for serious drug use under the new Wada Code which comes into force in on January 1.
The question now is whether the sanctions laid down in the 2015 code are severe enough, something Reedie was prepared to address if required.
Wada is sponsoring research exploring the long-term impact of steroids on human muscles. Even if it proves the benefits of drug-taking persist for several years, however, an increased tariff may not be a foregone conclusion. Reedie, Britain’s most senior sports official who is also a vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, said: “The worst of all possible situations would be for sport to introduce a sanction which was then immediately knocked down by a court of law.” That all but rules out a lifetime ban, something the former British Olympic Association chairman knows all too well after a successful legal challenge to its bylaw preventing drugs cheats competing at future Games. For now, Reedie’s focus is on ensuring the successful implementation of the 2015 Wada code, which was rubber-stamped a year ago at the same time as he was announced as the organisation’s new president. As well as the doubling of sanctions, the code places far greater demands on national anti-doping organisations and there are fears many poorer nations will struggle to comply. Reedie promised countries would be given time to do so. “We will not take a severe view on compliance on Jan 2, that’s for sure. My own view is that this will take at least 12 months to develop and mature before we take a serious view of compliance.” Any nation declared non-compliant has previously risked being prevented from competing by the IOC and international federations, and Reedie warned failure would not be tolerated indefinitely. “The implications of that will then have to be picked up by other people.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/drugsinsport/11191616/Four-year-ban-for-drug-cheats-could-be-extended-confirms-president-of-World-Anti-Doping-Agency.html