Key changes to WADA's revised World Anti-Doping Code
November 14, 2007
MADRID, Spain (AP) -- Key proposed changes to the World Anti-Doping Code, which comes up for ratification at the World Doping Conference in Madrid this week:
-- Athletes to face a four-year suspension (up from two years) for a first doping offense in "aggravated" cases. This includes athletes involved in a larger doping scheme; using prohibited substances on multiple occasions; if the athlete enjoys the effect of the prohibited substance for a period longer than the term of ineligibility; or for impeding the investigation of an anti-doping offense.
-- Athletes to be considered guilty of a doping violation if they accumulate a combination of three missed tests and/or fail to provide information of their whereabouts within an 18-month period.
-- Athletes to get reduced bans if they admit to doping; assist officials in catching other drug cheats; lead investigators to a larger doping scheme; prove the prohibited substance was not intended to enhance performance.
-- Testing time between A and B samples to be reduced; athletes to be provisionally suspended after a positive A sample.
-- WADA can appeal a sanction or non-sanction by national anti-doping organizations directly to the Court of Arbitration of Sport.
-- The IOC to accept bids for the Olympics only from countries whose governments have signed up to the UNESCO convention and whose national bodies comply with the WADA code. The same rule to apply to international federations starting in 2010 for bids for world championships.
The reason I am posting this story is because the portion of the story that I highlighted could have a dramatic effect in tennis.
In two recent high profile doping cases in tennis (with Canas and Puerta), the players were found to have ingested trace amounts of a banned substance, but in amounts that could not have possibly enhanced performance (and showed no intent to cheat). However, the WADA Code gave no room for the ITF Tribunal members to apply lower, more applicable sanctions that fit the "crime" suitably. That's why we were seeing the automatic 2 year and 8 year bans, which were unfair. In order to get relief, the players had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight their case before CAS, which overturned or reduced most of the suspensions.
A great majority of the doping cases in tennis seem to have been accidental, and have given no performance enhancement. If this change to WADA Code goes through, this will be a huge step toward fairness for tennis players, and all athletes.
(And I wonder if this will have any effect on the Hingis case...)