Prison Sentences for Drug Offenses?

Story written by EPelle

Jan Fitschen, the suprise European Championships 10,000m gold medalist from Germany, stated to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung today that court-proven doping offenders must be imprisoned if they are found guilty of performance-enhancing drugs.

Fitschen, 29, argues that the current maximum two-year competition ban the IAAF imposes on first-time offenders isn't enough in order to fight the battle against those who cheat.

Fitschen, who clocked a 28.10,94 personal best in defeating the Spanish duo of José Manuel Martínez (28.12,06 SB) and Juan Carlos de la Ossa (28.13,73) by sprinting by them off the final turn of the 25-lap race here in Göteborg last August, sees himself as a role model.

Fitschen was an unheralded 29-year-old ranked only 722nd in the world by the IAAF coming into the championships, yet he managed to time his kick perfectly and claim the gold medal as the best of the Europeans in a championship setting.

Fitschen revealed to the European Athletics Association following his race that a top-10 finish was an ideal placing for him prior to his victory.

“The last 600m was very, very hard for me. I looked up and saw I was fourth, and I said to myself that fourth is the worst place I could finish. So I started to try a bit harder again.

“When I saw that Belz couldn’t go with the Spaniards, I tried a bit harder again. When I passed him, I thought third was good, but there could be a bit better.

“I looked up at the scoreboard and could see the Spanish, and I could see from their faces that they weren’t very happy. I tried a bit harder again, and then I passed them. It was like it was a dream.”

The first half of the race was covered in 14.16,80, leaving a large pack in contention after 12½ laps.

Fitschen told the newspaper that he, himself, has never been tempted to use performance-enhancing drugs, because of his status in the sport.

However, he did concede that his living standard and lack of reliance on athletics to put food on the table may not be seen in the same light by athletes with a different financial background.

Fitschen's track success began with a fifth-place finish in the 5.000m at the 1999 Under-23 European Championships. He was then upped the stakes by winning the German Championships 5.000m title four times (2001, 2002, 2005 and 2006), and doubling as 10.000m victor in both 2005 and 2006. The European Championships race was only his fourth-ever attempt at the distance, though he won gold at the distance at the 2003 World Student Games.

Germany has been in the line of fire recently over drugs issues, with Nils Schumann, the 2000 Sydney Olympic 800m champion, and former European 400m champion Grit Breuer facing questioning by the German Athletics Federation (DLV) over suspected violation of doping rules.

Breuer, in a separate action, is seeking 300.000 € in damages from the IAAF, stating it unfairly banned her in 1992 over a violation of good sport rules.

2006 European Championship 10.000m results (Courtesy EAA):

1 451 FITSCHEN Jan GER 2 MAY 1977 28:10.94 PB 14
2 251 MARTÍNEZ José Manuel ESP 22 OCT 1971 28:12.06 SB 12
3 235 DE LA OSSA Juan Carlos ESP 25 NOV 1976 28:13.73 7
4 872 BELZ Christian SUI 11 SEP 1974 28:16.93 4
5 965 LEBID Serhiy UKR 15 JUL 1975 28:19.14 8
6 816 MAKSIMOV Dmitriy RUS 6 MAY 1977 28:20.43 SB 16
7 471 POLLMÄCHER André GER 22 MAR 1983 28:22.56 PB 15
8 355 EL HIMER Driss FRA 4 APR 1974 28:30.09 3
9 271 SERRANO Ricardo ESP 29 OCT 1980 28:38.40 13
10 595 MEUCCI Daniele ITA 7 OCT 1985 28:48.30 10
11 535 FAGAN Martin IRL 26 JUN 1983 28:54.04 18
12 762 RAMOS José POR 27 JUL 1968 28:55.45 2
13 342 BENHARI Mokhtar FRA 22 MAY 1974 28:56.07 9
14 184 PETROVIC Slavko CRO 23 SEP 1980 28:56.66 SB 5
15 145 VAN HOOF Willem BEL 18 FEB 1979 28:57.11 6
16 143 STROOBANTS Jesse BEL 10 NOV 1980 28:59.91 11
17 140 RIZKI Monder BEL 16 AUG 1979 29:13.62 1
18 723 KACZMAREK Michal POL 19 SEP 1977 30:14.37 17

Intermediate times:

1000m 2:50.96 140 RIZKI Monder (BEL)
2000m 5:38.45 235 DE LA OSSA Juan Carlos (ESP)
3000m 8:33.57 184 PETROVIC Slavko (CRO)
4000m 11:24.79 235 DE LA OSSA Juan Carlos (ESP)
5000m 14:16.80 965 LEBID Serhiy (UKR)
6000m 17:09.13 251 MARTÍNEZ José Manuel (ESP)
7000m 19:59.52 235 DE LA OSSA Juan Carlos (ESP)
8000m 22:51.94 235 DE LA OSSA Juan Carlos (ESP)
9000m 25:39.43 872 BELZ Christian (SUI)

Weather conditions: Temperature: 17 °C Humidity: 80 % Conditions: Partly cloudy

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