: The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has proposed a four-year suspension for “serious” first-time offenders in the revised draft Code. The second draft of the 2015 Code was presented to the WADA Foundation Board at its meeting in Montreal on Sunday. The second draft will be published on December 3 when the third and final phase of the Code revision process begins. This will last up to March 1, 2013. The final draft is scheduled to come up for approval in November next year.

“The present draft substantially strengthens the sanctions for serious violations, increasing from two years to four years the penalties, for example, for the use of anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, masking agents, trafficking and prohibited methods,” the WADA stated in a release on Sunday.

With the four-year ban being incorporated, a proposal in the first draft to have an extended ban for the Olympics beyond the two-year sanction has been dropped. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had in 2008 brought in Rule 45, also known as the Osaka rule, to ban an athlete involved in a doping offence attracting a suspension of more than six months from the next Olympics.

Invalid and unenforceable

That rule was struck down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last year as “invalid and unenforceable” because it did not comply with the Code. In order to overcome the setback, the rule was brought back into the first draft to allow the IOC to enforce stricter control over dope offenders, but now, it would seem, the idea has been dropped with the introduction of the four-year sanction for serious offences.

Many of the international federations had the four-year suspension rule before the Code came into force in 2004. In the ongoing process, initially it was proposed to apply the four-year ban for cases involving multiple steroid use and a few other ‘aggravating’ cases.

“It is clear from the number of submissions we received, that there is a strong desire in the world of sport, from governments and within the anti-doping community to strengthen the sanction articles in the Code,” the release quoted WADA President John Fahey as saying.

Among submissions that did not result in amendments to this draft were suggestions to remove the ‘B’ sample testing procedure, and to change the sanction process for teams in case of ‘positive’ cases for two members. An agency report quoted Mr. Fahey as saying that under the new draft, the WADA would have the power to investigate in case another agency was slack in its duty.

For the second year in succession, the Foundation Board confirmed that the WADA would not be receiving additional funding. That means it would have to manage with an annual income of around 28 million dollars. — Special Correspondent

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