Call for doping amnesty, big bans
Fri, 26 Oct 2012 6:42p.m.
By Di O’Connell
As the fallout from the doping scandal surrounding cyclist Lance Armstrong widens, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is backing tougher bans and an amnesty for drug cheats.
The New Zealander heading WADA, David Howman, wants cycling to be clean - and a clean slate is a good start.
“There are too many out there still who haven't really told the truth and I think a truth and reconciliation process is one of the ways we might achieve that.”
An amnesty's up to cycling's governing body - the UCI - which meets tomorrow.
Howman's group WADA, which was founded in response to the 1990s Festina cycling drug scandal, is aiming to double the ban for big crimes.
“If it's increased to four you're going to reduce the numbers that might come back from a serious ban,” Howman says.
Penalties and testing are limited and WADA can't hope to match sophisticated criminal operations and deep pockets of cheats like Lance Armstrong.
“He was spending, when he made his comeback, hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Howman says. “We haven't got that sort of money.”
Former teammate and convicted doper Floyd Landis has pulled out of Sunday's Tour of Southland, and organiser Bruce Ross says with the recent scandal they're being extra vigilant.
“Ordinary drug tests will be done. We've organised other tests to be done also so we've been pro-active in that field.”
And Howman wants other sports to be pro-active by extending testing following disturbing results from school-age rugby players.
“We've just done a pilot programme with South Africa at school level [and] regrettably quite a number of those participating in their Craven Week tested positive for steroids,” he says.
And Howman is calling on complete openness now to save more drug dramas unfolding down the track.
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