Wada proposes doubling bans in wake of Lance Armstrong doping scandal

As Armstrong punishment is hailed, invigorated agency wants heavier suspensions for dopers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2012, 1:01am


The World Anti-Doping Agency has sought to redefine its role as a sports watchdog in the wake of allegations of a doping conspiracy involving cyclist Lance Armstrong and has proposed doubling bans for athletes caught using performance-enhancing drugs.

At a gathering in Montreal, Wada reviewed a draft code that would slap a four-year ban on anyone convicted of using anabolic steroids, human growth hormone and masking agents or trafficking in these substances.

The code, which would also give the anti-doping agency powers of investigation, will be finalised next year and take effect in 2015.

"There is a desire to increase penalties, to increase sanctions," Wada chairman John Fahey said, after a two-day meeting of the organisation's foundation board.

"And if you look at that the four-year [penalty], it certainly, invariably, will take out somebody competing at the next Olympics once it's imposed.

"It covers some of the things that certainly the Olympic movement believed ought to have been covered with their own rule in the past."

Wada has previously come under fire, notably from the British Olympic Association (BOA).

BOA chairman Colin Moynihan accused the anti-doping agency of colossal failure in cracking down on cheating.

In November 2011, Moynihan said that Wada's role should be reviewed.

"Regrettably, despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars in the 10 years since its creation, the World Anti-Doping Agency has been unable to achieve its own, well-intentioned objectives," Moynihan said.

Fahey dismissed comments that stricter sanctions would face opposition by Britain on the one hand - urging stricter measures - or by others who might call the four-year ban draconian.

"I don't see any one of those associated with anti-doping saying that there should be different penalties other than those that are there.

"International Olympic Committee members at our meeting made no comment with respect to the proposed four years.

"I see no evidence of any concerns expressed by anybody since we've started this review process," Fahey said.

He said he was confident that the ban would not be challenged by courts.

"I am confident that the four-year [penalty] won't breach, on the advice we've received, any current law in any part of the world."

Fahey lauded the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) probe for exposing "a sophisticated sham" and bristled at suggestions that it had overstepped its boundaries by investigating the supply, use and distribution of drugs involving teams associated with Armstrong.

"Usada acted within the code itself and within the laws of the United States, so I don't believe there is any substance whatsoever in suggestions that Usada went beyond what they had a capacity to do."