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British Government Considers Making Doping a Criminal Offense

Following the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) announcement that it doesn’t wish to institute the criminalization of doping, the British Government is considering setting up its laws to punish athletes who dope, and those who provide the banned substances, with possible jail time. 

In a interview with the BBC this week, Great Britain’s Sports Minister, Tracey Crounch, said her agency is considering making the offense a criminal act.

“It is an interesting idea,” said Crouch.“I’ve asked officials in my department to have a look at the issue… We will make a judgement based on that in the near future.”

Crouch added: “UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) are just one member of a world anti-doping movement and that is something we have to take into consideration.

“There are some interesting ideas for and against it. Whatever we do we have to make sure people who compete for this country are clean.

“Ukad do an excellent job in terms of education and awareness and I have confidence in their ability to assess athletes in terms of their cleanness but I want to make sure we do look at all the options going forward.”

Other countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Spain, France and Italy have all enacted laws making doping criminal.

For example, in 2010, the manager of former cyclist Bernhard Kohl, was given a 15-month prison sentence for providing banned substances, while former Liberty Seguros manager, Manolo Saiz, was arrested in 2006 on doping charges as well.

On Sunday, WADA’s president, Craig Reedie, told the press:

“WADA does not wish to interfere in the sovereign right of any government to make laws for its people,” they wrote in a press release issued on Sunday.

“However the Agency believes that the sanction process for athletes, which includes a right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), is a settled process, accepted by all governments of the world, and further that the sanctions for a doping violation by an athlete, which now includes a longer, four-year period of ineligibility, have been globally accepted by sport and government. As such, the Agency does not believe that doping should be made a criminal offence for athletes.”

 “The Agency acknowledges that countries that have introduced criminal legislation for doping have been effective in catching athlete support personnel that possess or traffic performance enhancing drugs. It seems that, given the threat of being imprisoned, these personnel are often more cooperative with anti-doping authorities.

“We have seen evidence of this in Italy, for example, with a large number of Italian nationals currently listed as having ‘disqualifying status’ under the Prohibited Association clause of the Code.”

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