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By Shane Stokes A tougher stance against drug used in sports has been taken by the International...
By Shane Stokes
A tougher stance against drug used in sports has been taken by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), who have asked WADA to double the mandatory ban from two years to four for first-time drug cheats.
Speaking at their congress meeting at Helsinki prior to the world championships, senior vice-president Dr Arne Ljungqvist responded to calls made by the United States to impose life bans on any athlete testing positive for steroids. Ljungqvist said that it was necessary to work with WADA, who currently feel that life bans would be difficult to enforce.
The US motion was seen as a response to the BALCO laboratory drugs scandal, which represented one of the biggest threats to athletics' credibility in recent years. Although the IAAF have decided against life bans, their calls for the doubling of the current two year suspension is significant. They previously reduced the first time ban from four to two years in 1997 as some civil courts had argued that the longer ban was excessive.
"We adopted the WADA code two years ago at our last Congress including the two years' ban," said Ljungqvist. "There is a wish from many sports to review this situation.
"Whatever wish we may have - and I'm certainly one of those who would like to see stronger penalties - this is not the right moment to do so, to increase the penalties in our organisation, which is not supported by the international code of today.
"We are in a situation where we can extend the ban but I believe we have to do it on an international scale and in agreement with WADA. It should be jointly evaluated by WADA, so we can get the world anti-doping code changed in that direction.
"The IAAF should take the lead in presenting this to WADA and lead the world in the anti-doping fight."
Cycling currently follows WADA's two year model for serious doping cases, although ProTour teams have imposed a stricter limitation with a four year freeze on banned riders competing within their ranks. Should WADA decide to accept the IAAF's motion, it is likely that an outright four-year ban would extend to other sports.
The recommendation will not be considered immediately, though, as it is not due to go before WADA until their congress in 2007.