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.