Support for four-year doping bans by IOC

Lance Armstrong (United States) on the podium for the time trial at the Sydney Olympics

Lance Armstrong (United States) on the podium for the time trial at the Sydney Olympics (Image credit: AFP)

The World Anti-Doping Agency's proposal to increase doping bans from two to four years has been given support by the president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge.

The tougher penalty has been planned for the next round of the WADA code, which is set to go into effect in 2015, ahead of the next Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Rogge, speaking at a conference in Amsterdam, said he has not seen the final text of the code, but said the proposal is "heartening".

According to the Associated Press, Rogge supported the increased ban "for what I would call heavy doping".

These serious violations would include use of performance enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, EPO, blood doping or masking agents, or trafficking of prohibited methods or substances.

The UCI has previously sought to increase the standard doping ban to four years, following the rash of CERA positives in the 2008 Tour de France, but the WADA code did not accommodate the increased ban length.

The IOC has also previously attempted to increase doping punishment by barring athletes who have served bans of more than six months from the next Olympic Games. However, the "Osaka Rule" was struck down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport as an additional penalty for the same offense, something that is not in alignment with the WADA code.

The British Olympic Committee had gone further, imposing lifetime Olympic bans on athletes who had served doping suspensions. The CAS decision overturned the BOC rule, opening the door for David Millar to compete in the London Games.

Rogge said the new four-year bans were in line with the Osaka Rule, "because the Osaka Rule was to stop the athletes to participate in the next games if their penalty was higher than six months. Now with this high penalty of four years, automatically you don't participate in the next games."

Doping has been at the forefront of sporting news since the US Anti-Doping Agency successfully pursued a lifetime ban against Lance Armstrong for years of organized doping in the US Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams. The USADA case also stripped Armstrong of his competitive results from August 1, 1998 onward.

Those results would include an Olympic bronze medal from the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia. The IOC is still examining the eight-year statute of limitations before deciding if it can strip Armstrong's medal. The USADA used a legal precedent that circumvents the statute of limitations if it can be proven that a conspiracy to cover up the infraction continued inside the eight-year cutoff.

"There is still legal work to be done," Rogge said, regarding whether the IOC could impose the same precedent.

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