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Valerie Adams backs doubling of drug bans

Published: 5:28AM Wednesday November 21, 2012 Source: Fairfax

Double Olympic champion Valerie Adams has backed the World Anti-Doping Agency's move to double bans on drug cheats from two to four years.

The release of WADA's revised World Anti-Doping Code proposes doubling the punishment on those caught cheating, cranking the current sanction on athletes found using anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, and masking agents to four years.

The longer term effectively blocks an offender from competing in the next Olympic Games - and arrives in the wake of US track and field athlete LaShawn Merritt managing to overturn an International Olympic Committee sanction which would have ruled him out of London 2012.

The crackdown also follows disgraced Belarusian shot-putter Nadzeya Ostapchuk, who twice tested positive for steroids at the London Games and cheated Adams out of her collecting her second gold medal on the Olympic podium.

Adams says the system should be tightened so to eliminate violators from accessing the next Olympic cycle.

"I think WADA's idea is great.

"Olympics-to-Olympics is where things need to be looked at," Adams said.

"Depending on when it happens, the problem with two years is that people will probably still be able to go to the Olympic Games. But, if WADA says four years, chances are they ain't going to be there.

"I believe that's good and fair. It should be the process."

It's also been proposed WADA be given stronger investigative powers, allowing them to ride over the top of a governing body in the event of inaction or dissatisfactory response where doping or suspicion are concerned.

Adams said the proposed new code, which would come into effect in 2015 providing it passes a final consultation period in March next year, would allow WADA to enforce as strong an anti-doping system as possible in time for the Rio Games in 2016.

"These things take time to be processed, but steps like these are steps in the right direction," Adams said.

"It seems WADA are keen to clean things up as well as they can.

"Unfortunately, the reality is the cheats and the criminals are always going to be ahead."

Australian president of WADA, John Fahey, says he is confident the tougher measures will be passed with the global sporting community in favour of tougher drug punishments and deterrents.

"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," Fahey said.

"This second draft has done that, doubling the length of suspension for serious offenders and widening the scope for anti-doping organisations to impose lifetime bans.

"The code review is intended to increase the effectiveness of anti-doping, and athletes must know that there is a heavy price to pay for intentional doping, that the risks are high.

"I am confident this draft will deliver that message loud and clear, and that our own stakeholders will agree."

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