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Austria to introduce doping prison term

Austrian Bernhard Kohl at the 2008 Tour de France

Austrian Bernhard Kohl at the 2008 Tour de France
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Austrian athletes found guilty of doping could face a jail term of up to 10 years following new laws to be put before parliament. The nation’s sports and justice ministers announced on Monday that amendments to the national fraud act will make the use of performance enhancing drugs in competition a criminal offence for the first time.

Like many nations, only possessing or selling banned substances is a criminal offence under current Austrian law. The increased attention to the matter has come following several high-profile doping cases involving the nation’s athletes, including that of cyclist Bernhard Kohl.

Kohl tested positive to third-generation variant of erythropoietin (EPO) continuous erythropoitin receptor activator (CERA) during the 2008 Tour de France. Kohl later quit the sport after being handed a two year ban for the incident, which followed several high-profile CERA cases after the drug’s discovery.

The changes still require ratification by Austria’s parliament however once passed are expected to be in effect from January 1, 2010.

Austria’s introduction of criminal sentences for doping in sport are another step forward for cycling, whose fight against performance enhancing drugs has been boosted this year by the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) blood passport. While a conviction under the new laws will likely face jurisdictional challenges, the move sets a precedent for other nations to follow.

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