NZOC supports increased doping penalty

The New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) is pleasantly surprised at the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) leap towards increasing the standard ban for serious offences from two years to four.

WADA this week unveiled a proposal to double the penalty in the next edition of its global code, which will come up for approval next year and take effect in 2015.

It will ensure Olympic drug cheats miss the subsequent Games following their offence, something NZOC secretary general Kereyn Smith says has always been pushed by her office.

"We've been really consistent about the importance of sanctions being credible and ensuring that athletes have a sufficient deterrent... because of the harm they can do to sport," she told NZ Newswire.

WADA president John Fahey says there is "an overwhelming amount of support" for the sanction to be strengthened for use of steroids, human growth hormone and other serious doping substances and methods.

The NZOC was disappointed last year when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) invalidated the International Olympic Committee rule that barred any athlete suspended for more than six months for doping from competing at the next summer or winter Games.

The CAS deemed that rule "invalid and unenforceable" because it amounted to a second sanction and did not comply with the WADA code.

Smith says the four-year proposal gets around that loophole.

"And it makes it universal as it's across all events. It's not only about the Olympics it's about all offences of that magnitude so it's a universal and consistent approach.

"Being in the WADA code makes it mandatory, which is what everyone wants."

Fahey says some sports bodies had previously challenged four-year bans in court as being too severe and a restraint of trade.

He says WADA took legal advice on the issue and believes the sanction will stand up legally.