Cheating sports stars who fail drug tests face being jailed if a proposed new law is passed.
The proposed drug crackdown would mean those who are caught using performance-enhancing drugs would be sent to prison for up to two-years.
The idea is being championed by the former sports minister and British Olympic Association chairman Lord Moynihan.
Tracey Crouch, Conservative sports minister has asked officials to assess the proposal, which would closely emulate laws already in force in Italy and France.
She said: “It is a really interesting idea. There are international examples of this taking place but it is an idea that does need to be explored further.”
Athletes and Coaches could be Arrested for Failed Drug Tests
Lord Moynihan would like to see the law enforced by the 2017 world athletics championships in London, arresting any athlete, regardless of nationality, caught doping in the UK and making them stand trial in this country.
David Howman, director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said he supported the criminalisation of dopers, adding: “The real deterrent cheating athletes fear is the fear of going to prison.”
Coaches or support staff assist the athlete to cheat would also be liable and face of the possibility of a prison sentence and / or a fine in the UK.
Not everyone in the anti-doping community feels that this would be an appropriate punishment. Nicole Sapstead, the chief executive of the UK Anti-Doping Agency, said it did not want to see doping criminalised.
She said: “We are open to dialogue around new ways of protecting sport, but our focus remains tackling the supply chain and the source of the problem.”
‘Drug Cheats Defraud Clean Athletes out of a Career’
Lord Moynihan said: “Intentional doping in sport remains the worst crime an athlete can commit.
‘Why? Because they have defrauded a clean athlete not only out of selection, but out of their career.
‘They shred the dreams of clean athletes with every needle they inject.
‘These individuals are sports frauds. Fraud as a criminal offence should apply as much to them as it does to fraud in the City of London or in society in general … the deterrent effect of criminalising doping will send a message into the homes and classrooms of young athletes that if you want to compete in the 21st century, you must stay clean.’
The British European 10,000m champion Jo Pavey also would like to see the idea come into fruition. He Said: “I have been defrauded out of money for races where dopers have finished ahead of me.
“Sportspeople who choose to dope should face the possibility of a criminal process. Imposing this sort of law sends out a clear message.”
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