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Proposed changes to WADA's anti-doping code

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — A look at proposed key changes to the World Anti-Doping Code that will be considered at next week's World Conference on Doping in Sport in Johannesburg, South Africa:

FOUR-YEAR BANS

WADA proposes doubling the suspension for serious doping violations from two years to four years, a penalty that would keep offenders out of least one Olympic Games. A previous IOC rule that an athlete guilty of a serious doping offense would be ineligible for the next Olympics was thrown out by the Court of Arbitration for Sport as a double punishment.

WADA believes it will be able to maintain the four-year ban this time.

"We tested it to be able to see if it would be able to withstand any challenge in the Court of Human Rights," WADA Director General David Howman told The Associated Press, adding WADA also engaged a human rights court judge to look at proposals.

Athletes who tamper with or refuse tests also will be banned for four years.

TRAINERS TARGETED

Support staff like coaches, trainers and masseuses who help athletes dope are also in WADA's sights. The anti-doping body will decide on amendments to its rules to make it easier to punish the "athlete support personnel" involved in doping. Often, the support staff is outside the jurisdiction of anti-doping authorities but proposals seek to make them also accountable to doping rules.

"There's been an outcry particularly from athletes that these people go unpunished," Howman said.

SMARTER TESTING

WADA has looked at the testing procedures of anti-doping organizations and found that some don't collect blood and urine samples and some don't test for certain substances. WADA proposes introducing a "menu" of substances applicable to each sport so anti-doping bodies are testing for the substances "most likely to be used in particular sports." Testing smart, basically.

The new code also gives more weight to investigations and intelligence-gathering — the kind of work that went into uncovering the Balco, Operation Puerto and Lance Armstrong scandals.

HUMAN RIGHTS

WADA says its stakeholders want the principles of "proportionality and human rights" laid out in the code, and the body will consider this. Howman said WADA is also seeking to be "more flexible" with punishments for inadvertent dopers — those who take banned substances by mistake or use contaminated substances unwittingly.

10-YEAR TEST WINDOW

The WADA statute of limitations would be extended from eight to 10 years, allowing anti-doping agencies to store and test samples for up to a decade after they were taken to retrospectively catch dopers with technology or tests that were not available at the time.

Follow Gerald Imray at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP

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