The Australian Olympic Committee has turned to drastic measures of threatening athletes, coaches and officials with possible jail time if a new anti-doping proposal is endorsed.
On the back of Lance Armstrong’s calculated and varied use of drugs that helped him to seven Tour de France titles, and the subsequent doping admissions of Australian cycling officials Matt White and Stephen Hodge, AOC President John Coates wants to eliminate the threat of dopers from his country’s Olympic team.
Coates' proposal would ask all athletes sign statutory declarations that would ensure penalties handed out to those later caught cheating. The proposal is of the belief that publically shaming athletes by kicking them off the Australian team is no longer a viable option.
If caught the maximum penalty would be two years jail and/or a $5500 fine (one of those seems a lot more serious than the other). Under current rules the AOC cannot exclude athletes who have already served suspension for drug use.
Although a number of athletes have already stepped up to support the cause, which will go before an executive board meeting on November 16, the movement already has its detractors.
The Australian spoke to Michael Ashenden, a medical researcher who is working on way to detect drugs in blood, believes that it would be too hard to prove the drug use before a court of law.
"Lance Armstrong would have signed one of those statutory declarations, so I struggle to see how it would be a step forward unless it was part of a larger strategy," said Ashenden.
"This initiative must go beyond just seeking to protect the reputation of the AOC, which I think is a very narrow view for the AOC to take at this point in time.
A number of Australian athletes have been suspected of drug use in the past, but due to the lack of conviction in the current system most have been able to escape punishment and walk away with their ‘clean’ label still intact.
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