The third revised draft of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) 2015 Code seeks to tighten the noose around dope offenders and athlete support personnel while following the “principles of proportionality and human rights” for unintentional use of banned substances.

The draft Code prescribes four years of ineligibility in certain cases of first offence. Such instances include: [i] the anti-doping violation does not involve a specified substance and [ii] the violation was for a specified substance and the anti-doping organisation can establish that it was intentional.

For ‘whereabouts failures’, the period of ineligibility has been proposed as two years. However, it is subject to reduction to a minimum of one year depending on the athlete’s degree of fault.

For complicity in anti-doping rule violation, the period of ineligibility has been reduced from a minimum of four to two years.

There are provisions for lessening sanctions for specified substances and contaminated products where the athlete or the other person (including athlete support personnel) can establish no significant fault or negligence.

Prompt admission of an anti-doping rule violation (for non-specified substances), which attracts four years of sanction, may help the athlete receive a reduced period of ineligibility.

However, the new Code, which will come into effect from January 1, 2015 by replacing the 2009 Code, says that in cases where an athlete has been handed a suspension by the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) “shall not regain eligibility until CAS cost awards and forfeited prize money imposed upon him on account of anti-doping rule violations have been paid.”

The draft code has become stricter about prohibited association of an athlete with persons of doubtful background.

Onus on the athlete

It puts the onus on the athlete to establish that he does not have any association with such athlete support personnel. The prohibited association includes, obtaining training, strategy, technique, nutrition or medical advice; obtaining therapy, treatment or prescriptions; providing any bodily products for analysis; or allowing the athlete support personnel to serve as an agent or representative.

Prohibited association need not involve any form of compensation. In the context of several athletes getting ‘help’ from tainted athletes’ support personnel, especially after the sensational revelation by cyclist Lance Armstrong about organised doping, WADA has assumed a strict posture about the persons associated with an athlete.

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