IAAF plans tough doping stance

Updated: August 8, 2013, 12:15 PM ET
Associated Press

MOSCOW -- Track and field's governing body will reintroduce four-year bans for serious drug violations in 2015 and wants the World Anti-Doping Agency to deter cheats.

In a vote by acclamation at the IAAF congress, member federations backed leaders seeking stronger WADA sanctions. The International Association of Athletics Federations said it is ready to press ahead on its own if other sports refuse to toughen the sanction from two years.

The new WADA code takes effect in 2015. IAAF President Lamine Diack said Thursday that his group will move to four-year sanctions regardless of what is decided at the Nov. 12-15 World Conference on Doping in Sport in Johannesburg.

"Up to 2015 it will still be two years," Diack said. "From then on, as far as the IAAF is concerned, it will be four years."

IAAF officials have always stressed they were ready to impose four-year sanctions and only grudgingly adapted to the two-year penalties in 1997. They fear new steps next November will again fall short in effectively deterring athletes.

"If WADA is only following some federations, who have their doubts, we have to take care of our own fate," IAAF Council member Helmut Digel told The Associated Press.

WADA wants a uniform standard across all sports and countries.

Track and field officials fear the goal of four-year bans will be watered down in negotiations leading to the Johannesburg meeting, leaving so many exceptions and caveats that it would hardly make a difference from the current system of two years.

"The four-year ban is not a slam dunk," said Abby Hoffman, the IAAF's anti-doping task force coordinator. "We need to be sure that space is carved in in the anti-doping campaign for athletics to impose the ban that we know our athletes and our members want."

The issue has gained prominence before the world championships, which start Saturday in Moscow. Several high-profile doping scandals have clouded preparations for the event.

The sport's premier event, the men's 100 meters, was hit especially hard. Tyson Gay had been expected to challenge Usain Bolt for the title after a strong early season but was forced to pull out of the worlds when he failed an out-of-competition test.

Almost at the same time, it was announced that former world-record holder Asafa Powell tested positive for the stimulant oxilofrone at the Jamaican national championships in June.

Digel said the sport is doing all it can to eradicate doping, even at the expense of a public relations setback.

"Tyson Gay? We are not protecting him," Digel said. "Asafa Powell? We are not protecting him. These are our superstars. We want to help our clean athletes."

On Friday, the International Olympic Committee executive board will announce its choice for the successor to John Fahey as WADA president.

IOC Vice President Craig Reedie of Britain, who sits on the WADA executive committee, is the firm favorite. The other candidates are former two-time Olympic 400-meter hurdles champion Edwin Moses of the United States and former IOC medical director Patrick Schamasch.

The candidate put forward Friday will go up for formal approval at the WADA meeting in Johannesburg and take over as president Jan. 1.


Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press

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