Olympic athletes join call for lifetime doping bans


Athletes have backed a move from the IOC to introduce Olympic bans for competitors found guilty of doping.

IOC president Thomas Bach last week reaffirmed his desire to see dopers handed lifetime bans - a move backed by the World Olympians Association (WOA) on Monday.

Part two of the McLaren report was released on Friday, alleging that over 1000 Russian athletes were implicated in state-sponsored doping that took place from 2011 to 2015.

Professor Richard McLaren, commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), sent shockwaves through the sporting world last July when his initial findings were that Russia operated a state-sponsored doping programme.

Russian track and field athletes were subsequently banned from Rio 2016, although the IOC were criticised in some quarters for not issuing a blanket ban to Russia at the Games - the nation was subsequently barred from the Paralympics.

But the WOA have come out in support of the IOC and Bach, amid proposals to see tougher measures introduced against cheaters.

A statement read: "World Olympians Association (WOA) wishes to express the voice of Olympians to help make sure that justice is served and, by working in unison with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), ensure a more robust worldwide anti-doping system can be put in place. 

"We support the position of the IOC Executive Board and its very strong statement, which we believe reflects the views of all Olympians, namely that Professor Richard McLaren and his team have uncovered an attack on the fundamental principles of the Olympic Games. 

"We wish to state that:

"1. Automatic exclusion from the next Olympic Games and major championships should be mandatory for all athletes who are found guilty of having committed a doping offence, as recently proposed to WADA by the IOC. And there should be life bans for those found guilty of organising and administrating the systematic cheating. 

"2. We support the creation by the IOC of the Schmid and Oswald commissions to follow up on the facts established by the McLaren reports and expect appropriate sanctions for all those found guilty.

"3. The review of the anti-doping system should lead to the enactment of the WOA proposed three-point plan: Testing and sanctioning independent from sports organisations and governments as proposed by the IOC; a dramatic increase in funding to stay ahead of the cheats linked to an improvement in the governance of the anti-doping system; and a clearer compliance system to ensure that clean athletes are not disadvantaged if their NOC/IF/NADO is found guilty of cheating with evaluation and sanctioning powers strictly separated from the compliance assessment. 
"We believe that if these three points are enacted Olympians can be assured that they will be competing on a level playing field and cheats will be driven out of sport in general and the Olympic Games in particular."