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  • Fight Against Doping: Austrian Doping Saga Continues, Lord Coe Weighs in


    Sebastian Coe said he fears for the future of athletics if another doping scandal emerges. (Getty Images)  
    30 Athletes Named in Doping List

    Austrian press published a list of 31 cyclists and biathletes who used the services of Humanplasma, a lab in Vienna. The lab is currently under investigation by Austrian authorities for offering blood transfusions to high-endurance athletes.

    According to the list, most of the athletes come from Austria, Germany and the Netherlands.

    The list’s accuracy remains to be seen. Three Austrian biathletes named and the German Ski Federation are suing for libel in Austria and Germany. The Austrians are suing “unknown persons”, as the list was the result of an anonymous tip.

    One of those accused -- Olympic champion skier Stefan Eberharter -- said his inclusion was "the most idiotic thing I have ever heard".

    German Skiing Federation spokesman Stefan Schwarzbach said, "We say again this is false and we are 100 percent behind [our athletes]. Our athletes three weeks ago signed a declaration with our lawyers in which they claim they have never had any link with this laboratory."

    Austria's Secretary for Sport Reinhold Lopatka said all "Austrian sports suffers damages" with this new list.

    In response to the latest Austrian doping scandal, the Austrian Cabinet passed tougher anti-doping laws on Wednesday.

    "Blood and genetic doping will become a criminal offence, as will be the ownership of drugs and medical instruments that can be used for doping in sports," said Lopatka in a press release.

    Dwain Chambers Reactions

    British sprinter Dwain Chambers returned to competitive racing earlier this month after serving a two-year ban for using performance-enhancing drugs, making the British team for the World Indoor Championships. Here are some opinions on his return. 

    UK Athletics chief executive Niels de Vos has used Chambers’ return as a way to highlight the need for stricter drug penalties in athletics. "There is a hardening of attitudes across athletics. It is not about him - it is an issue for the whole sport. Two years is no worse than a serious cruciate ligament injury. Whether a four-year ban is enough is debatable."

    De Vos is not the only person at UKA to share those views. Tanni Grey Thompson was tasked with toughening UKA’s drug rules once Chambers returned to the sport. "I have a hard-line view of anti-doping, I think it should be an eight-year ban," said Thompson.

    Chambers can’t compete in Beijing under UKA rules for drug violations, but his spokesperson says he may challenge that. Chambers’ spokesman, Damion Silk, says a decision would come after the Indoor World Championships. "We'll talk about that after Valencia," Silk said. A well-known sports lawyer in the UK said "Chambers has an arguable case. He has a reasonable chance of winning. After all, he has already been penalized with a two-year suspension. It would be a very interesting case."

    Edwin Moses, an Olympic Champion and former world record holder in the 400m who has worked for years in the fight against doping, says a longer ban is needed for drug cheats. "Sporting organizations are going for two-year bans and if an athlete serves two years then they are able to compete. That's it. I personally would look for a four-year ban," Moses said. "An athlete may need to miss an Olympic cycle to appreciate the scale of the penalty. Nobody keeps training for four years, nobody hangs around that long. It is the equivalent of a life ban."

    World Champion in the 100m, Tyson Gay, sounded almost indifferent about Chambers’ return. "I'm not going to treat him any differently or bear any hatred towards him. I will treat him with respect as I do the others. If he has done his time, he's come back, and he's working hard, then that is what he is doing. People will have their personal views about him, even if he wins a gold medal, but I have to train hard, train harder, and whatever the outcome is, that's the outcome."

    BALCO founder Victor Conte, who was found to have supplied Chambers with performance-enhancing drugs, said, "It's disgusting what has happened to Dwain. A lot of people who are coming out and kicking Dwain, and speaking about zero tolerance, are liars. He could be a major positive in the fight against doping, but instead there's all this hate, hate, hate. What
    "If someone put something in my drink, and I was unlucky to test positive, I would have to leave the country forever. People would never believe me if I said I was innocent. They would think of me as a cheater and they'd probably spit at me in the street. It is just not acceptable in Sweden. It makes me scared," said Swedish heptathlete Carolina Kluft. (Getty Images)  
    sort of example is that?"

    Chambers, who says he is being "treated like a leper" has even drawn the ire of leprosy advocates. The Leprosy Mission calls his remark "a hugely offensive statement".

    ICU Could Fight Contador’s Ban

    The International Cycling Union blasted Tour de France organizer's decision to ban team Astana, for which last year's winner Alberto Contador competes, from racing. UCI President Pat McQuaid said the Union could take legal action to ensure Contador would be able to race in the July Grand Tour.

    "It would be a tragedy if Contador is not allowed to defend his title. It is a complete disgrace. We will do all we can to ensure Contador rides in the tour," said McQuaid.

    The 2007 Tour de France was marred by numerous doping controversies, including the incrimination of several Astana riders.

    "They say that Astana damaged the Tour last year but so did other teams. So why have they only selected Astana? It is unfair and unjustifiable. In my opinion they have chosen Astana because of the relations between ASO and the UCI and because they don't want to respect our rules. It has nothing to do with the sport and everything to do with economics and power," McQuaid said.
    Another rider
    Asafa Powell said he thinks there will be drug cheats in the 100m in Beijing. (Getty Images)  
    who missed last year’s Tour de France was Alessandro Petacchi of Italy. During the Giro d’Italia, he tested positive for salbutamol. The Italian Cycling Federation cleared him of malfeasance when he demonstrated that he uses the substance because of asthma, and overuse was merely human error.

    WADA and the Italian Olympic Committee are seeking to overturn the Federation’s ruling, but the hearing with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, originally set for March 12, was bumped until April 2

    Sebastian Coe Fears for Athletics

    London 2012 chief and IAAF Vice-Chair Sebastian Coe says that athletics is in danger of being ruined by drugs.

    "We cannot have another five years like the ones we've just been through because I'm not sure the sport would survive that" he said.

    "We've got to make sure that we've got systems in place that detect and that have penalties that are proportionate to the damage that is being done to our sport."

    ...Olympic champion in the 100m Asafa Powell says he thinks he will race against drug cheats in Beijing. "I have a lot of suspicions but I keep them to myself," he said. "It’s always going to be there, that dark cloud, because people are wondering who is really on drugs. It’s a very unfair sport. I get my satisfaction from beating whoever I think is on it. They should be banned. They’re doing something illegal and when you do something illegal, you should be punished. So I would say yes, give them a life ban."
    ...Five Australian athletes were handed sanctions from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Feb 19 after positive drug tests. The bans range from a warning and reprimand, to two-year suspensions. "These sanctions demonstrate that like never before, athletes who are doping or contemplating doping now face greater scrutiny than ever from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the consequences are severe," ASADA Chairman Richard Ings said.The athletes were from the sports of surfing, powerlifting, rugby, motorcycling and waterpolo. 

    ...Canadian bobsledder Serge Despres was handed a 20-month suspension Feb 19, after he tested positive for the anabolic steroid, nandrolone last August. The Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport says that Despres was taking a contaminated nutritional supplement, which could be the culprit in the positive test results. Lab tests showed that the supplements' ingredients included nandrolone. According to Canadian Press Association, Despres told media on Feb 20 that he is not a cheat, but he thinks his suspension should "only have been one year."

    Written by Ed Hula III Laura Grundy, and Eric Connelly.

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