DRUGS IN SPORT: IOC considers selective bans

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THE OFFICIAL in charge of the International Olympic Committee's drugs programme proposed selective bans yesterday to keep doping offenders out of certain - but not all - major events.

Prince Alexandre de Merode, the chairman of the IOC medical commission, also said that the IOC will seek a compromise on its proposal for a two- year minimum ban for major drug abusers.

In an attempt to keep athletes from successfully challenging sanctions in civil courts, De Merode said that the IOC will seek to impose bans that keep athletes out of some of the biggest competitions, while allowing them to stay active in the sport to make a living.

"It will be a financial and moral punishment, and it will be severe, but it will not rob him of his work," De Merode said. His comments came just days ahead of next week's world conference on doping in sport in Lausanne, Switzerland. Nations from around the globe and sporting federations will meet to seek to harmonise drug policies in the wake of a series of scandals.

Michelle de Bruin, the triple Olympic swimming champion, had her appeal against a four-year doping ban postponed until May, the Court of Arbitration for Sport announced yesterday.

The CAS was originally expected to decide on the Irish swimmer's case this month, but instead it extended the four-month deadline for her appeal hearing until 3 May.

"There are two reasons for the delay," a CAS official, Matthieu Reeb, said. "We've experienced difficulty in gathering all the parties and councils together in Lausanne. The other reason is that the panel of arbitration allowed a new exchange of written statements between the parties."