New tribunal would end inconsistency over bans

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The Independent Online

A new independent body could be set up in Britain to handle disciplinary policy on drugs in several different sports.

Details about the proposed tribunal emerged yesterday during a Parliamentary inquiry into drugs in sport. Consultants reviewing UK Sport, Britain's drug-testing agency, are investigating the possibility of such a panel.

Their recommendation is expected in June. But if it does receive the go-ahead the panel would be one where sports opt in - those such as football who would want to retain the power of imposing punishments themselves for doping offences would be able to stay outside the new system.

Athletics officials believe a national independent body would remove inconsistencies which at present allow, for example, Rio Ferdinand to be banned for eight months for missing a drugs test when a swimmer or runner would have been banned for two years.

The UK Athletics chief executive, David Moorcroft, told the Culture, Media and Sport select committee: "There is a huge weakness in the British system in that each governing body deals with adverse findings separately.

"The part of the process that should be independent is the disciplinary part. There should be a UK body that deals with these things consistently and cost effectively. Penalties should be consistent across sports. At the moment they are inconsistent."

Moorcroft believes that a nationwide disciplinary body for drugs should cover all sport. He added: "If there is an adverse finding in athletics, football, tennis or rowing it should be dealt with in exactly the same way each time rather than how the governing bodies feel is appropriate."