Austria sports minister Gerald Klug has announced that the country is tightening its anti-doping laws. Klug's announcement will make it illegal for athletes to work with officials and coaches who have been banned in doping cases.
The Sports minister remarked testing will now concentrate more on sports with a history of doping. Klug remarked we are going toward more intelligent testing and we will focus mainly on sports which have been affected by doping many times, and on athletes who show a sudden major improvement in their performance.
The new anti-doping laws of Austria will also make complicity in drug cheating a criminal offense. They will also include stricter rules for witnesses called by the National Anti-Doping Agency. The Austria sports minister said many witnesses in the past just didn’t appear for a hearing but they can be obligated in the future by a criminal court to testify.
In accordance with the new World Anti-Doping Agency Code, the standard suspension for a first doping offense will be doubled from two to four years. Klug said a four-year suspension will effectively mean the end of a career in many cases.
The laws, which will take effect in 2015 if not rejected by the Austrian Parliament, come less than a year after cross-country skier Johannes Duerr was expelled from the Sochi Olympics after he was found guilty of using the blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO). Erythropoietin is used by professional athletes to boost the count of red blood cells in the cells that carry oxygen to the muscles. It has the ability to improve stamina and endurance.
The 27-year-old tested positive on 22 February for the banned substance recombinant erythropoietin (EPO). The IOC Disciplinary Commission decided that Duerr was disqualified from the Men’s 15km + 15km Skiathlon event where he placed 8th and excluded from the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi in 2014. Originally a medal contender for Sunday's 50-kilometres race, the cross-country skier from Austria Duerr admitted that this is the worst thing he had done in his life.
Austrian Olympic Committee President Karl Stoss remarked that it is a black day for Austria after he learned of Duerr's suspension. Stoss remarked the athlete himself confessed that he is the only one who did that and he takes all the responsibility on himself. In a statement, Stoss had remarked we are shocked by this announcement and took the appropriate measures right away. Stoss added that we have told the athlete and informed him about his rights, his accreditation has been pulled and he has been excluded from the Olympic team with immediate effect and Duerr is already on his way home. Duerr's actions were termed as a matter of "heavy doping" by Austria's sports director for cross-country, Markus Gandler.
Austria has been fighting hard against doping ever since its biathlon and cross-country teams were caught up in a blood doping scandal at the 2006 Turin Olympics. Italian police, acting on a tip, raided the Austrian team lodgings near Turin and seized blood doping equipment and other substances.