Drug cheats in sport may be offered worldwide amnesty
THE WORLD Anti-Doping Agency has said that it is considering introducing an amnesty for athletes who have broken the rules regarding drug usage in sport, as the fallout from the Lance Armstrong/US Postal Service team doping scandal continues.
Details are still being hammered out but the anti-doping agency’s president, John Fahey, told ABC Radio National in Australia yesterday he felt his board would be “very interested in entertaining” the idea of an amnesty if it would encourage greater transparency. It would have to be done across all sports as part of a global harmonisation, he said.
One goal of such a move would be to encourage athletes to come forward and to provide information to anti-doping officials.
This would enable the agency and others to pinpoint the suppliers of banned substances, as well as the doping doctors who guide athletes in the use of illegal drugs.
The Irish Times contacted the agency for clarification of how such an amnesty would work. One obvious question is how far back in time an amnesty could extend, while another is to consider if an athlete such as Lance Armstrong could have availed of the process if it had already been in place.
Apart from his own drug usage, Armstrong has been accused of encouraging and coercing team-mates to also use banned products.
In response, the anti-doping agency’s Terence O’Rorke said the specifics were still being worked out.
The topic of past doping in sport has been centre stage of late due to the Armstrong investigation. Last week the US anti-doping agency released 1,000 pages of evidence as part of its “reasoned decision”, which was presented to both Wada and cycling’s governing body, the UCI.
Both may appeal the lifetime ban and the stripping of Armstrong’s results to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. While Wada is thought unlikely to go to Cas, the UCI has provided little indication of its own intentions thus far.
However, its Irish president, Pat McQuaid, confirmed yesterday that its decision will be announced in Geneva on Monday.