IOC says government must criminalise doping

LONDON (Reuters) - The government has been urged to strengthen its stance against doping in sport by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

A view of the Aquatics Centre in an image courtesy of London 2012. The government has been urged to strengthen its stance against doping in sport by the International Olympic Committee. REUTERS/Handout

On the day the British Olympic Association (BOA) announced the formation of a commission into anti-doping, the chairman of the IOC’s medical commission Professor Arne Ljungqvist said the Government should make doping a criminal offence.

He said stringent measures should be put in place to make sure London 2012 is a clean Games. Some European countries such as Italy have already criminalised doping in sport.

“Doping is unacceptable, a social crime,” Ljungqvist said in Tuesday’s Times newspaper. “A coming host of an Olympic Games should show a good example here.”

Earlier this year a cross-party committee of MPs accused the government and UK Sport of “complacency” in putting into place rigorous measures to catch drugs cheats.

Their report called for automatic four-year bans and recommended that an independent body be put in charge of national doping controls, rather than UK Sport, the government agency that currently deals with it.

On Tuesday, UK Sport criticised the formation of the BOA’s anti-doping commission which has, among other leading sports figures, Ljungqvist on its panel.

“We have had discussion with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Home Office to look at what legislation is in place,” a UK Sport spokesman said on Tuesday.

“We’ve also hosted a WADA symposium in April looking at how legislation and greater co-operation between law enforcement agencies and government can fight against doping in sport.”

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John Steele, chief executive of UK Sport, said his agency should be left alone to concentrate on the fight against doping.

“There needs to be clarity about who is responsible for what in sport,” he said in a statement. “We would never say that the BOA should not consider an issue as fundamental as doping and the individual expertise on the commission is not in doubt.

“However, as the body responsible for managing anti-doping in the UK, it would have been helpful for us to have the opportunity to help frame their work.

“Until there is greater clarity on the commission’s purpose, therefore, it is difficult to see what value it is going to add over the next year and at a time when the UK system is already under close scrutiny.

“The last thing British sport needs as we build up to Beijing 2008 and London 2012 is distraction, confusion about roles and duplication of effort.”

High on the agenda for the BOA commission is to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of introducing legislation on doping in sport before the 2012 Olympics, including whether criminal charges need to be an additional sanction.

Commenting on its launch, BOA chairman Colin Moynihan said: “This is one of the highest powered commissions ever established in the UK.

“As the host Olympic nation in 2012 collectively we, the Government and its agencies have a duty to be a world leading country in the fight against doping.”

London 2012 organising committee (LOCOG) said they would work under the policy laid down by WADA, the IOC and UK Sport.