• Athletics

WADA: Drugs cheats will miss an Olympic Games

ESPN staff
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WADA satisfied with Jamaican doping audit

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has approved stricter punishments for athletes which ensure drugs cheats will be guaranteed to miss an Olympic Games.

Currently a first major offence carries a two-year ban, with a lifetime ban for repeat offenders, but a new code set to come in to effect from January 1, 2015 will double the initial punishment to four years.

The change in regulations follows the announcement of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), who have announced four-year bans for drugs cheats will commence from next year.

The new WADA code also introduces increased flexibility in the punishment of athletes who are found to have mistaken banned substances, or those who co-operate with doping investigations and also gives anti-doping authorities stronger powers to punish coaches and trainers who help cheats.

The extensive Lance Armstrong doping saga has highlighted the tough battle facing drugs testers for clean competition, and the new code will place more emphasis on investigations and place greater importance to catching cheats than simply conducting drugs tests.

Wada, who announced Britain's Sir Craig Reedie will be its new president from January 1, have been praised by many in the sporting community for the new regulations, including UK Anti-Doping chief executive Andy Parkinson.

He said: "Sir Craig is rightly held in very high regard within the sporting movement and around the table of Wada.

"The challenge for him over the next few years is to bring the public and sporting authorities closer together, and to lead the evolution and strengthening of compliance with the new code."

Lord Coe is a supporter of the new sanctions © Getty Images
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Lord Coe has also backed the new sanctions, but emphasised that this is the start of a long battle to save the sport which needs continued, widespread support to be effective.

He told the BBC: "If you were to ask me if this is a battle we can afford to lose I would tell you no - that is non-negotiable.

"Integrity is an important thing and is not just rooted in the field of play, but in the sport as a whole. We need federations to be structured in a way that make these punishments possible.

"I'm pleased the public are interested in this because it shows they care - and while they care there is a future for our sport. We don't want it to get to a stage where it is like American professional wrestling where crowd turns up, know what they are watching is fake but frankly don't care."

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