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Australian Olympic Chief Wants Team to Sign Doping Declaration

Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates
John Coates, president of the Australian Olympic Committee. Photographer: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images for AOC

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates wants team members to sign a legally-binding document saying they have no doping history, a proposal that would make those later found to have lied guilty of an indictable offense punishable by prison time.

Coates will propose at the committee’s executive board meeting in Melbourne on Nov. 16 that athletes, coaches and officials sign a statutory declaration saying they have never been involved in doping, the AOC said today. He wants the measure in place for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro two years later.

“If they don’t sign, they don’t go to the games, they won’t be selected,” Coates said in an e-mailed statement. “What I don’t want is for the AOC to have egg on its face like cycling has.”

Australian cycling is under review after officials Matt White and Stephen Hodge admitted to doping during their racing careers. White was fired yesterday as sports director of the Orica-GreenEDGE team after he admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs on Lance Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service team from 2001 to 2003. He’d earlier had his contract as coordinator of Australia’s men’s national road teams terminated.

White’s Oct. 13 admission came after he was mentioned in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s report that resulted in Armstrong being stripped of all seven of his Tour de France victories. The International Cycling Union opted not to appeal USADA’s ruling. Armstrong, who has denied doping and said he never failed a drug test, declined to take the USADA case to arbitration.

Sky Pledge

Team Sky, whose rider Bradley Wiggins won this year’s Tour de France, said last month it would ask everyone involved in the team to sign up to a written policy confirming that they have no past or present involvement in doping. Sports director Steven de Jongh and race coach Bobby Julich have since left the squad after they admitted to taking a banned substance during their racing careers.

Under Coates’s plan, Australian athletes, coaches and officials would all be required to put their name to a document which would form part of the team agreement they are required to sign before being selected by the AOC.

Statutory declarations are governed by the Oaths Act(s) of the relevant states in Australia. Under the 1900 New South Wales Act, those found to have willfully and corruptly made a statement they knew to be untrue could be liable for as many as five years imprisonment, according to an excerpt from Coates’s report to be delivered to the AOC executive on Nov. 16.

“We simply cannot allow the name of the AOC to be damaged, like that of the International Cycling Union, for not having taken every reasonable step possible to ensure that no person in authority on our Olympic team has a doping history,” Coates added in the statement.

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