Friday, November 16, 2012
Australian Olympians to sign no-doping past pledge
BRISBANE, Australia -- The Australian Olympic Committee will require future Australian Olympic athletes and officials to sign a declaration revealing any past use of performance-enhancing drugs, and those who are caught lying could face jail terms.
When AOC President John Coates announced his plan on Nov. 2, he said "If they don't sign, they don't go to the games, they won't be selected. What I don't want is for the AOC to have egg on its face like cycling has."
The AOC's executive board adopted the proposal on Friday in Melbourne in response to the Lance Armstrong doping case that resulted in the American cyclist being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. Two senior Cycling Australia officials later quit after admitting doping during their racing careers.
AOC spokesman Mike Tancred said that the declaration will relate only to performance-enhancing drugs, and will not affect members of junior teams.
The declaration will form part of the Team Agreement that must be signed before someone is selected to an Olympic squad. Coates said anyone caught lying could face criminal charges, and be imprisoned for five to seven years in some Australian states.
It will affect athletes in contention for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
"In my opinion 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 said when he announced the proposal.
Asked Friday what banned substances will come under the new measure, Coates told Australian Associated Press: "This is going to be an interesting little drafting exercise, it really is." He admitted there might have to be "wriggle room" for doping cases where there are mitigating circumstances.
And recreational drugs like marijuana would not be included in the declaration.
Another limitation is that the AOC cannot stop an athlete competing at the Olympics if he or she has served a doping ban. A legal ruling earlier this year forced the British Olympic Committee to drop its lifetime ban of doping offenders.
Coates said that ruling does not apply to team officials or coaches.
"An athlete could be available for a games after serving a two-year suspension," Coates said. "However, we talked about it and we will not accept onto the team in any official or coaching position anyone who may have, as an athlete, violated an anti-doping rule and served such a sanction."
Matt White was the Australian men's road coach at the London Games after riding at the Sydney and Athens Olympics. He has lost his roles at Cycling Australia and the Orica-GreenEDGE team after admitting to doping while an Armstrong teammate a decade ago.
Coates said the AOC was prompted to bring in the statutory declaration idea after the British Sky professional cycling team announced it wanted all members to sign a declaration saying they have never doped.