Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - Page 19 News List

Athletics focuses on bright side

CLAMPDOWN?While some officials urge stiffer penalties, including lifetime bans, for athletes who fail drugs tests, others focus on supporting those who stay clean

AP, LONDON

IOC vice president Thomas Bach, who leads the committee’s investigations into Olympic doping cases, said the latest news is “disappointing and encouraging at the same time.”

“Should all the information be confirmed at the end of the day it would be a great disappointment that some athletes obviously haven’t yet understood that there is zero tolerance in the fight against doping,” the German said. “Catching the cheats is important, but only a means to the end of protecting the clean athletes.”

“At the same time yesterday’s news is encouraging because it proves that the system of testing is working and no cheat is on the safe side,” he said. “The fight against doping takes time and will never be ending, but we are fighting it with all the necessary consequences.”

The IAAF, which carries out more tests than any other international federation, also sought to emphasize the positive from the latest body blow to the sport.

“The IAAF’s commitment to anti-doping in athletics is unwavering because we have an ethical obligation to the majority of athletes who believe in clean sport,” IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said. “It is for them that we have built a program that is well resourced, far reaching and sophisticated.”

“The fact that we are able to detect and remove from the sport athletes who have breached our anti-doping rules should be seen in this context,” he said.

“The credibility of our anti-doping program, and the sport of athletics, is enhanced, not diminished, each time we are able to uncover a new case and we have the committed support of every athlete, coach or official who believes in clean sport,” Davies said.

The spate of high-profile drug cases has again focused attention on the issue of doping sanctions.

A two-year ban is the standard penalty for a first serious offense, though the punishment can be lighter for stimulants and in cases where athletes can prove there was no intention to enhance performance.

Under the proposed new World Anti-Doping Code, the standard penalty will be doubled to four years, still short of the automatic lifetime ban espoused by some officials.

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