IAAF Wants to Re-Introduce 4-Year Bans for Drugs Cheats

The International Association of Athletics Federations, track and field’s ruling body, plans to reintroduce four-year suspensions for serious doping violations from 2015.

“The IAAF has an ethical obligation to the overwhelming majority of athletes and officials who believe in clean sport,” it said in a statement on its website today after the 49th IAAF congress in Moscow voted in favor of doubling its current punishment for doping offenders.

“The new WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) code, which will come into force on Jan. 1, 2015, will reflect our firm commitment to have tougher penalties and the IAAF will return to four-year sanctions for serious doping offenses,” the ruling body said.

The IAAF had been forced to halve its four-year ban for first-time drugs violations in 1995 under pressure from some major track governing bodies which were concerned a longer suspension would violate national laws. That meant some athletes caught doping had been able to sit out their bans without missing an Olympic Games.

The IAAF’s decision comes two days before the start of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Moscow, and follows a series of high-profile cases that have shaken the sport in the past two months.

On July 14, U.S. sprinter Tyson Gay and Jamaica’s Asafa Powell, respectively the fastest and fourth-fastest men in the world this season, said they wouldn’t compete in Moscow after testing positive for banned substances.

In June, Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown, a two-time Olympic 200-meter champion, accepted a provisional suspension following a positive test for a banned diuretic. And three days ago, the Turkish Athletics Federation suspended 31 athletes -- including hammer-thrower Esref Apak, a silver medalist at the 2004 Athens Games -- for two years after they tested positive for banned substances.

The new WADA doping code is up for approval at the World Conference on Doping in Sport in Johannesburg in November.

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