WADA eyes tougher doping sanctions

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Montreal - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) proposed a draft code on Sunday that would usher in stiffer sanctions against cheaters and grant itself investigative powers in cases where national sports bodies refuse to take action.

The WADA draft code, which will be reviewed in December and approved in 2013, calls for a four-year sanction of ineligibility from a sport instead of two years under the current code.

“I think there is a real will in the world of sport to see sanctions that are a little more meaningful,” WADA chairperson John Fahey told AFP.

“I believe that the proposals that are in the draft are proportionate. They certainly respond to those who seek to extend the current sanctions from two up to the four years. I think the message is strong here.”

Fahey was speaking at a WADA foundation meeting which drew a number of participants, including the president of International Cycling Union (UCI) Pat McQuaid, who sat solemnly and consulted his smartphone for most of the proceedings.

McQuaid has tried to defend himself against charges that he failed to fight against drug-taking in cycling in the wake of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) report that revealed rampant doping by Lance Armstrong and the teams the disgraced rider was associated with.

Fahey said USADA's probe was able to show “the most comprehensive, irrefutable outcome of a culture of doping in cycling and certainly the most sophisticated sham in the teams associated with Armstrong. That indicates that we can achieve outcomes. We can bring things through to a point where these cheats are exposed.”

Fahey said that while anti-doping advocates were buoyed by USADA's dramatic findings, WADA itself needed extend its jurisdiction in cases where sports governing bodies refuse to investigate allegations of cheating. The draft code proposes more testing and newly-minted powers of investigation.

“The proposal that goes out in December clearly articulates that WADA has the power to investigate. What that tells me is that when a sporting body, an anti-doping organisation is given information and they do nothing about it - and we've had many examples of that in the past - that WADA can go in and do something about it with investigative powers.”

Fahey, who was in Kenya recently, said he was dismayed to realise that authorities there were not committed to investigating a German media report that performance-enhancing substances were being made available to Kenyan runners by people posing as doctors.

“We asked the Kenyan authorities to investigate that independently. We said to the National Olympic Committee and to Athletics Kenya that you need to establish an independent inquiry to see if it's true.”

“Nothing has happened. They haven't done anything. I asked the minister when I was there. I spoke to president of the National Olympic Committee. They talked to me about looking into it. We went around in circles. I've written since and said 'have you got an independent investigation going as to the availability of performance enhancing drugs readily in your country that was a statement from one of your own athletes?' I haven't got any answers from them.”

“If we had investigative powers I could have said: 'You set up an independent inquiry or we will. If you don't do it, we will.”

WADA's draft code, which would be finalised in 2013, would officially take effect in 2015. - Sapa-AFP


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