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WADA to adopt new doping codes

9 November 2013

DOPING: Drawing hard lessons from the Lance Armstrong scandal, global anti-doping authorities are set to move into a new era with tougher sanctions, smarter testing and a different leader.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is also taking a new approach in its effort to catch drug cheats. 

It is pursuing investigations and gathering intelligence rather than relying on the blood and urine samples that proved unsuccessful with Armstrong, a serial doper who never failed a test.

A series of proposed changes to the World Anti-Doping Code will be voted on at the World Conference on Doping in Sport. The conference runs next week in Johannesburg.

The revised code will take effect January 1, 2015 - in time for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

"We've got a budget of not even the salary that Wayne Rooney earns at Manchester United," WADA director general David Howman told The Associated Press. 

"I think what you have to do is say, 'Right, how do you make the bucks you have go as far as they possibly can to get rid of those rotten apples?"'

In the most obvious deterrent, WADA is proposing to double the standard ban for serious doping offenses from two years to four years, meaning cheaters would miss at least one Olympics.

The move appears to have widespread approval. While current rules allow for four-year bans in aggravated cases, the longer sanctions are rarely enforced and most federations keep to the standard two-year penalty.

A previous IOC rule that banned dopers from the next Olympics was ruled invalid by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. WADA then consulted a judge at the Court of Human Rights to make sure the latest four-year proposal would stand up to legal challenges.

"I can't see it not being accepted to be honest," UK Anti-Doping chief executive Andy Parkinson said.

WADA is also re-examining testing procedures, placing more importance on police-style investigations and extending the reach of anti-doping agencies to give harsher punishments to the coaches and trainers, the "athlete entourage" that assists in doping - all factors in Armstrong's case.

Armstrong was "surrounded by a lot of rotten apples," Howman said.

WADA also proposes lengthening the statute of limitations in doping cases from eight to 10 years. That would allow the storage and re-testing of samples for up to a decade.

With these changes being considered, WADA will elect a new president. Craig Reedie, an International Olympic Committee vice president from Britain, is the only candidate. He is set to succeed former NSW Premier John Fahey as WADA president, taking over January 1, 2014.


Four-year Bans
WADA proposes doubling the suspension for serious doping violations from two years to four years, a penalty that would keep offenders out of least one Olympic Games. A previous IOC rule that an athlete guilty of a serious doping offence would be ineligible for the next Olympics was thrown out by the Court of Arbitration for Sport as a double punishment. WADA believes it will be able to maintain the four-year ban this time.

"We tested it to be able to see if it would be able to withstand any challenge in the Court of Human Rights," WADA Director General David Howman told The Associated Press, adding WADA also engaged a human rights court judge to look at proposals. Athletes who tamper with or refuse tests also will be banned for four years. 

Trainers Targeted
Support staff like coaches, trainers and masseuses who help athletes dope are also in WADA's sights. The anti-doping body will decide on amendments to its rules to make it easier to punish the "athlete support personnel" involved in doping. Often, the support staff is outside the jurisdiction of anti-doping authorities but proposals seek to make them also accountable to doping rules. "There's been an outcry particularly from athletes that these people go unpunished," Howman said. 

Smarter Testing
WADA has looked at the testing procedures of anti-doping organisations and found that some don't collect blood and urine samples and some don't test for certain substances. WADA proposes introducing a "menu" of substances applicable to each sport so anti-doping bodies are testing for the substances "most likely to be used in particular sports." Testing smart, basically.

The new code also gives more weight to investigations and intelligence-gathering - the kind of work that went into uncovering the Balco, Operation Puerto and Lance Armstrong scandals. 

Human Rights
WADA says its stakeholders want the principles of "proportionality and human rights" laid out in the code, and the body will consider this. Howman said WADA is also seeking to be "more flexible" with punishments for inadvertent dopers - those who take banned substances by mistake or use contaminated substances unwittingly. 

10-Year Test Window
The WADA statute of limitations would be extended from eight to 10 years, allowing anti-doping agencies to store and test samples for up to a decade after they were taken to retrospectively catch dopers with technology or tests that were not available at the time.


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