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AOC confirms new anti-doping measure

16 November 2012

John Coates admits the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) must tread carefully in its anti-doping crackdown, but is adamant cyclist Matt White has served on his last Games team.

White is the obvious first casualty of the AOC's decision to make all Games athletes and officials sign a statutory declaration, saying they have never been involved in sports doping.

This new measure carries extra weight because swearing a false declaration is a criminal offence.

Coates, the AOC president, proposed the new measure in the wake of cycling's Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

The AOC board approved it on Friday at a Melbourne meeting, but Coates said there are many issues to consider.

Asked what banned substances would come under the new measure, Coates told AAP: "this is going to be an interesting little drafting exercise, it really is.

"This is not easy drafting, I can tell you."

Already, the AOC has decided not to make minors sign the statutory declaration.

It will apply to performance-enhancing substances such as EPO and steroids, not illicit drugs.

Coates also admitted there might have to be "wriggle room" for doping cases where there are mitigating circumstances.

Another immediate limitation is that the AOC cannot stop an athlete competing at the Olympics if he or she has served a doping ban.

A legal ruling earlier this year meant the British Olympic Committee had to drop its lifetime ban of doping offenders.

That meant cyclist David Millar, a confessed drug cheat who served a ban and is now one of his sport's most vocal anti-doping advocates, was able to ride at the London Games.

But Coates said that ruling does not apply to team officials or coaches.

"An athlete could be available for a Games after serving a two-year suspension," Coates said.

"However we talked about it and we will not accept onto the team in any official or coaching position anyone who may have, as an athlete, violated an anti-doping rule and served such a sanction.

"We just don't want you on our team in a position of authority with our athletes.

"What we don't want is what's happened in cycling - to find out about this after people, either athletes or officials, are on our team."

White was the Australian men's road coach at the London Games after riding at the Sydney and Athens Olympics.

He has lost his roles at Cycling Australia and the Orica-GreenEDGE team after admitting to doping while a teammate of Armstrong's in the early 2000s.

Coates acknowledges White had done the "decent" thing by confessing.

Armstrong was slapped with a lifetime ban and lost his record seven Tour de France titles, despite insisting he never doped.

Coates said the AOC was prompted to bring in the statutory declaration idea after the British Sky professional cycling team also announced they want all members to sign a declaration saying they have never doped.

He said anyone associated with the AOC, including its executive and staff, would be asked to sign statutory declarations.

Roger Vaughan
AAP