Australia sets tough legal criteria for Olympics

Australian athletes and officials will be forced to sign a legal
document regarding their anti-doping history before they can be
eligible for next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The Australian Olympic Committee unanimously approved the
introduction of the ”statutory declarations,” AOC President John
Coates said Tuesday in a statement.

Under Australian law, anyone who willfully makes a false
statutory declaration could face up to five years in prison.

Athletes, coaches and officials must declare in the legal
document either that they have no history of doping, or that they
have committed a doping violation and served a sanction.

Any athletes or officials who can’t answer yes to either of
those options on the legal document will be ineligible for
selection in the Australia team.

With doping control samples stored for later re-testing, the
prospect of jail for making a false declaration is an extra
deterrent for athletes contemplating using substances too advanced
to be detected in conventional testing.

Coates proposed the new statutory declaration measure in the
wake of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. He said over the past
few months the AOC has drafted changes to its ethical behavior
bylaw and the Olympic team selection bylaw to accommodate the
introduction of the statutory declarations.

The Australian Crime Commission last week released a damning
report after a year-long investigation that indicated widespread
use of performance-enhancing substances in professional sports and
links between users and organized crime.

The release didn’t identify any player or team.

The federal government plans to introduce greater investigative
powers for the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency and the
possibility of civil penalties to curb the using of performance and
image-enhancing drugs by athletes.