UK Athletics Chief Calls For Tougher Anti-Doping Measures

Story written by EPelle

UK Athletics Chief Executive Niels de Vos has demanded that drug cheats within his sport be subjected to criminal proceedings, and would like police involvement in an attempt to thwart athletes from cheating their way to success.

"Athletics is a sport where we have to make sure that we do everything we possibly can to root out and identify cheats and then, when we have done, not to turn around and welcome them back with open arms two years later.

"It is, it seems to me, wholly hypocritical. A British vest is something that people rightly strive years to earn and achieve. It's one of the greatest moments of their lives, and for it to be despoiled by a cheat is wrong and my job, as a chief executive, is to make that vest maintains its purity in the future.

"The prevailing view among UK athletes and many world athletes is that there should be a lifetime ban for drug offences. I'd like to see the world governing body institute lifetime bans for drug cheats."

Those sentiments were in response to disgraced sprinter Dwain Chambers' attempted comeback -- an action dos Vos would like to see fail (See related article).

Chambers returned from a two-year anti-doping suspension in 2006, and was permitted to return to the sport under former UK Athletics executive David Moorcraft - a former 5.000m world-record holder. Chambers owes a considerable fortune to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for being payed earnings whilst he was on drugs, and will be forced to pay back that money if - and when - he can.

Chambers attempted to make a career in the NFL, but was unsuccessful at making it out of NFL Europe (the feeder league for the NFL consisting of six teams: Frankfurt, Berlin, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Hamburg and Amsterdam) before it folded its league.

Chambers has since attempted to return to track and field, and has hopes of qualifying for the IAAF World Indoor Championships - a goal which de Vos would like to deny Chambers. Chambers has vowed to make this a legal battle in an effort to put back on the Union Jack vest and compete for his country.

The Chambers controversy isn't the primary focus de Vos has in his immediate line of sight, however. de Vos would also like to have law enforcement more involved in the fight to keep his sport clean, and has suggested Great Britain follow the French model. where possesssion of banned substances has begun leading to criminal charges.

de Vos could take this matter further, however, as merely catching athletes in an act of possesing illegal performance-enhancing drugs will not prove to be easy.

The Italian anti-doping agency works in conjunction with prosecutors to enforce state power to punish athletes, support personnel, doctors, coaches and leaders involved in criminal anti-doping matters.

The Italian ministry routinely tracks banned substances by reviewing lists maintained by both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

A criminal investigation is launched by the prosecutor's office when they are alerted by those lists that an athlete has been implicated in a doping scandal. The prosecutor has extensive authorisation to approve wire taps, if they believe that evidence of possible doping has occurred with an athlete.

The Italian Olympic Committee can also request of its anti-doping prosecutor to request FIDAL -- the Italian Athletics Federation -- to punish athletes.

The French are not alone in making concerted efforts to criminalise those who cheat, as Portuguese authorities discussed an initiative at their 2007 National Sports Council to propose tough sentences that range from six months to three years in prison for those convicted of violating certain anti-doping rules.

The European Union's member states have initiatives in place to combat the problem of doping, with both specific and general legislation suggested for public anti-doping violations, and joint action available by public authorities and sport organisations to criminalise violations.

de Vos joined the Sale Sharks rugby team at the start of the 2002-2003 season, and helped them win the Premiership trophy in 2006. He is credited with turning around fan support and participation with the team - key elements UK Athletics are hoping to bank off of during de Vos's tenure as chief executive.

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