Athletics: British angered by IAAF cut in drug ban

Linford Christie led British protests here yesterday as the ban for serious doping offences in athletics was reduced from four to two years.

"We are going backwards all of a sudden," the former British team captain said. "I think it leaves it open to people to take drugs. We should have gone forward to eight years or even a life ban.

"If we are going to eradicate doping the deterrent has to be strong. This is not strong enough."

The change in the rule, confirmed at the International Amateur Athletic Federation's Congress ahead of the World Championships, follows a series of costly legal battles in which athletes have invoked civil law to contest the length of their bans.

In countries such as Germany, Russia and Spain, restraint of trade legislation regards a ban of two years, rather than four, as an appropriate punishment.

In March of this year, two German athletes - Martin Brehmer and Susan Tiedke-Greene - successfully applied for reinstatement half-way through four-year suspensions. Tiedke-Greene is due to compete in the World Championships starting tomorrow in the long jump.

Two years ago, an emotional appeal by the British Athletic Federation's executive chairman, Peter Radford, swayed the IAAF Congress from changing the four-year rule which has been in place since 1991.

Alan Warner, Britain's delegate at yesterday's congress debate, also argued fiercely against the reduction, but the new measure was carried by a 112-56 majority.

"Alan made a magnificent speech, but the minds were already made up," said Mary Peters, Britain's former Olympic champion and BAF president.

"The tail is being allowed to wag the dog," Warner said. "Only 10 or a dozen nations are affected and we have 200 IAAF members. It is a bad and a sad day for the sport."

There was support for the British point of view from the Olympic and world high hurdles champion, Allen Johnson. Condemning the move, he said: "It is not a good idea. Someone could take drugs now and still get back for the Olympics. The IAAF should have zero tolerance to drugs."

An IAAF spokesman confirmed that athletes who have served more than half of a four-year ban would be free to seek immediate reinstatement. That will be good news for Paul Edwards, the British shot-putter who failed to overturn his four-year ban in court earlier this month.

The IAAF ruling that two years should be the minimum ban leaves open the possibility that national federations could suspend their athletes for longer if they chose.

Christie is all for this. "Britain should stay with the longer ban," he said. "Someone has to take a stand. The majority of our athletes are drug-free and we should be able to prove it to the rest of the world."

Warner is inclined to concur with the two-year rule. "I think it would be grossly unfair on our athletes to hold them to four years when others are serving two, but the question has to be decided by the BAF Council."

Christie's reaction was instinctive and admirable - but the practical difficulties facing the IAAF in the face of national legislation are extremely awkward. It is the responsibility of national federations to contest civil claims by their athletes, and in most cases they cannot afford it. The BAF itself is currently facing a pounds 1m lawsuit for damages from Diane Modahl following her successful appeal against a four-year doping ban.

For all that, the way in which the IAAF decision was passed on to the waiting world yesterday was little short of contemptuous as the IAAF president, Primo Nebiolo, attempted to skirt round the issue before providing a couple of grudging replies to questions.

By the time discussion moved on to the IAAF's alteration of punishments following detection of illegal stimulants in athletes' urine, the sport's autocrat wearied of the whole business. "We have a problem with stimulants and we have reached an agreement," Nebiolo said. "But I regret to tell you I do not remember.

"I'm tired of discussing the problem of doping. I like these great events with their young people. Spending so much time following the pee-pee - for me it is not nice. I believe the general secretary, who loves the pee-pee better than myself, can inform you."

Thus requested, the general secretary confirmed that the three-month ban for illegal use of stimulants had been abolished. Those found guilty of infringements in future would receive a public warning.

Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
world cup 2014
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial