Cycling: Drug users face life ban

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RACERS face a life ban if found guilty of three doping offences in three years under measures announced yesterday. The International Cycling Union (UCI) said that from November, first offenders would receive a six to 12-month suspension and second offenders a one to two-year ban.

The current penalties are three months for a first offence and six months for a second. Professional riders are suspended for 18 months for a third offence while amateurs lose their licence.

Hein Verbruggen, the UCI president, said: 'A properly designed testing system will frighten athletes away from doping.'

Professionals will no longer have the right to have their first punishment suspended until they offend again, bringing them into line with amateurs.

Riders will, however, only receive suspensions of up to six months for taking so-called 'simple substances' such as the stimulant ephedrine.

Out-of-competition testing, already allowed during the race rest days and training periods, is to be increased.