British Olympic chiefs welcome move by World Anti-Doping Agency

Last Updated: 19/11/12 12:52pm

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LaShawn Merritt: Successfully challenged the rule in the Court of Arbitration for Sport last year

LaShawn Merritt: Successfully challenged the rule in the Court of Arbitration for Sport last year

A move by the World Anti-Doping Agency to double the ban for first-time drugs cheats to four years has been welcomed by British Olympic chiefs.

The proposal to increase the sanction for serious offences, for example taking steroids, is contained in WADA's new draft code and would come into force from 2015.

The British Olympic Association, forced by WADA to drop its lifetime ban for drugs cheats in May, announced that the tougher penalties were a step in the right direction.

Darryl Seibel, BOA spokesman, said: "There has been broad consensus that a two-year sanction for a serious first-time doping offence was insufficient and did not send the right message as a deterrent to those who might consider breaking the rules.

"By strengthening the sanction, WADA is moving in the right direction."

This longer ban would see athletes miss at least one Olympic Games - effectively enforcing the same measure as the International Olympic Committee's so-called 'Osaka Rule' which was dropped last year.

American sprinter LaShawn Merritt successfully challenged the rule in the Court of Arbitration for Sport last year.

Merritt was banned for 21 months in 2009 yet under the Osaka Rule - Rule 45 of the Olympic Charter - he would also have been excluded from this summer's London Games.

His case was taken up by the United States Olympic Committee and he was cleared to compete. However, he then pulled up in the 400 metres semi-final with a hamstring problem.

Non-compliant

WADA confirmed the Osaka Rule is not in the draft version of the code.

A statement on the WADA website read: "The present draft (of the WADA code) substantially strengthens the sanctions for serious violations, increasing from two years to four years the penalties, for example, for the use of anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, masking agents, trafficking and prohibited methods.

"Consequently, Rule 45 of the Olympic Charter has not been included in the draft version of the code. Also known as the Osaka Rule, it was part of the Olympic Charter until last year when it was ruled non-compliant with the code."

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