Doping - WADA testing "ineffective", says Australian Olympic chief

MELBOURNE Fri Mar 1, 2013 11:20am IST

Australia's Olympic chief John Coates prepares for a news conference in Sydney August 8, 2007. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne/Files

Australia's Olympic chief John Coates prepares for a news conference in Sydney August 8, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Tim Wimborne/Files

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Authority's prescribed testing is "ineffective" at catching drug cheats and should be supplemented by criminal penalties for athletes who refuse to cooperate with investigations, Australia's Olympic chief has said.

Australian lawmakers are weighing proposed law changes that would boost the powers of the country's national anti-doping agency, including giving it the authority to fine people up to A$5,100 for withholding information in an investigation.

Australian Olympic Committee chief John Coates has said the civil penalty would not be enough, however, and has pushed lawmakers to consider adding the threat of jail time in the proposed amendments.

"There is a case for us to acknowledge that the testing that WADA prescribes, and that is carried out in this country and around the world, is ineffective at catching drug cheats," Coates told a senate hearing in Canberra on Friday.

"But WADA isn't in a position to tell you what to legislate.

"I think (the proposed bill) is a very big improvement as drafted with the civil penalties, but I certainly think there's a case for having criminal penalties."

Australia has been rocked by a government report released last month that found "widespread" doping among professional and amateur athletes Down Under, with the supply of banned drugs fuelled by organised crime.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) announced it was conducting probes into the country's two most popular football codes, Australian Rules and the National Rugby League, in the wake of the report.

The proposed changes outlined in the 'Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment Bill 2013' have been described by the country's top athletes' association as "troubling" and premature.

"The Bill would grant powers to ASADA which would be insufficiently defined under the amended legislation and would infringe human rights and principles of best legislative practice," the Australian Athletes' Alliance said in a submission.

Lawyers have also criticised the bill's compulsory disclosure amendment as violating a person's right not to "self-incriminate".

The AOC has been vocal in its hard line against drug cheats and will make athletes competing at next year's Winter Games in Sochi sign statutory declarations saying they have no history of doping.

The doping crackdown Down Under has sparked heated criticism from some top athletes and sports pundits, who have denounced the investigations as politically-motivated witchhunts that have, as yet, failed to unearth any offenders. (Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Patrick Johnston)

Cricket

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Golf Update

Golf Update

Rory McIlroy has Georgia on his mind Down Under.  Full Article | Captain speaks 

Vettori Returns

Vettori Returns

Vettori back for New Zealand, Pakistan bat first in Sharjah.  Full Article 

Messi Record

Messi Record

Messi treble sets Champions League goals record  Full Article | Mourinho delight 

Aguero Hat-trick

Aguero Hat-trick

Aguero treble keeps Manchester City in contention  Full Article | Related Story 

Chelsea Win

Chelsea Win

Chelsea qualify in style with five-goal romp  Full Article | Related Story 

FIFA Trouble

FIFA Trouble

Hard to quantify damage done by non publication of report - Valcke  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage