The British Olympic Association has called for the minimum ban for serious doping offences to be increased to four years and exclusion from at least one Olympic Games.
In a submission to the World Anti-Doping Agency, the BOA has also called for all national Olympic committees (NOCs) to be granted the right to impose additional sanctions on athletes who break doping rules.
The BOA’s proposals come as the organisation awaits the verdict of a challenge to its own life ban for drug cheats brought by Wada. Under a BOA bylaw anyone guilty of a serious doping offence punishable by a six-month ban or longer is banned for life from Team GB.
Wada has challenged the BOA bylaw on the grounds that it exceeds the universal sanction adopted by all Olympic sports and NOCs of a two-year ban for first offences.
The outcome of the case is expected to be released by the Court of Arbitration for Sport later this month, with most observers expecting the BOA to lose, clearing the way for athletes such as Dwayne Chambers and David Millar to compete in London.
Against that background, the BOA’s submission to Wada’s review of its code is an attempt to set the terms of the debate about the direction of anti-doping post-London.
Central to the submission is a call for NOCs and international federations to be able to impose additional penalties on top of a mandatory minimum four-year ban, which if adopted would allow the BOA’s life ban to be reinstalled even if it loses at CAS.
Elements of the BOA’s position are likely to find support within the IOC, which was forced to drop its own rule banning dopers from at least one Olympics last year following a challenge from American sprinter LaShawn Merritt.
As well as calling for longer bans the BOA is critical of Wada’s record on catching serious cheats, suggesting the focus on “end-user testing” is too reactive, and urging more intelligence-led operations.
“Too often Wada has failed to catch the serious doping cheats – which, to its credit, Wada acknowledges,” The BOA submits. “Now may be the time to consider at a more fundamental level the role, structure and function of Wada as a centralised body.
“The BOA believes that focusing on intelligence-based testing, targeting the source of supply and the entourage who influence athletes as well as investing in building athlete biological profiles throughout the year should be the priorities in the campaign against the drug cheats.
“End-user testing still has a valuable place in the overall fight but it is not the principal way to catch the serious offenders.”
The BOA’s position is backed by some of the most high-profile recent case history. Disgraced US sprinter Marion Jones never failed a drugs test and was only exposed after involvement of US law enforcement authorities.
Millar also never failed a test, but admitted his use of EPO following a raid on his home by French police investigating an alleged doping conspiracy.
The BOA also calls for a review of the athlete whereabouts system, under which they have to be available for an hour-a-day for testing, saying the current model makes even innocent athletes feel guilty.
“The effect is that too many athletes are treated, and feel, as if they are guilty before being proved innocent; yet often they are in the vanguard of the fight against cheating in sport. for making athletes feel guilty before they are proved innocent.”
The BOA also calls for a more consistent policy on social drugs, and urges WADA to examine the approach of UK governing bodies such as the Football Association which focus on rehabilitation in relation to non-performance enhancing social substances.