John Treacy believes criminalising doping ‘should be considered’
ISC chief executive says that jailing athletes who cheat would be a major step forward
Irish Sports Council chief executive John Treacy says criminalising doping should be considered. Photograph: Inpho
Treacy is the most recent sports chief to strengthen the message against doping in sport following on from International Cycling Union (UCI) President Brian Cookson, who said last weekend that criminalising doping is a “good idea” and something that should be seriously considered.
Speaking at Wednesday’s Anti-Doping Annual Review for 2014, Treacy said that the message in Ireland had to continue to be loud and clear that the practice of doping in sport is unacceptable.
“I’d say yeah, it should be considered, absolutely, absolutely,” said the CEO and twice World Cross Country champion. “Certainly it’s a major step forward. It is something that should definitely be considered. It’s a strong step and there is a very strong message there. We are trying to send out a very strong message in Ireland and do our utmost.
“You know every now and then I’m hitting my head against the wall in terms of what happens in some other countries. But that’s a step that would need to be well thought-out and considered.”
Ireland has one of the strictest anti-doping programs in the world and last year there were three adverse findings and just one sanction in motorcycling, where a two-year ban was given for cocaine use.
The outcomes of two other cases involving individuals in unnamed sports are pending, with Clenbuterol, an anabolic steroid, and EPO found in their samples.
Cookson highlighted changes made since the publication of the Cycling Independent Reform Commission Report in March, including the targeting of “entourages facilitating doping” and the taking of an “intelligence-led testing approach”, which the ISC have also begun to adopt.
‘Heart and soul’
Last November the German parliament was asked to approve legislation that would see athletes caught doping or with doping products sentenced to between one and three years in prison.
Drug providers, coaches and managers would be tried for endangering the health of athletes and serve up to 10 years behind bars. The Bundestag has yet to approve the bill.
But the prospect of sending convicted dopers to jail, an idea raised by various people in recent months, is opposed by some organisations including the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
More recently, Russian and Kenyan athletes have generated deep concern over widespread doping claims. Last month Italian Federico Rosa and Dutchman Gerard Van De Veen had their training licences suspended by Athletics Kenya pending a probe into their role in a doping scandal which has engulfed the sport.
As a world-class athlete, who also won the silver medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic marathon, Treacy was beaten many times in championship events by athletes who were cheating.
“I could see it because I would run against certain athletes three weeks before a championship and they would be in a different stratosphere by the time the championships came around,” said Treacy.
“No doubt about it, no question. In fact they laughed at us. They laughed at us, sniggered at us for being the fools. There was systematic doping by a group of athletes and they were so good they just disregarded all of us and disrespected us. We all knew what was happening. We could all see it in front of us.
Because rugby carried out additional tests through the IRFU, Six Nations and ERC to those done by the Sports Council, it was, with 228 samples taken, the most-tested sport in 2014 next to athletics, which had 229 tests.