Australia sets tough legal criteria for Olympics

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Associated Press

Posted on February 12, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 13 at 3:44 PM

SYDNEY (AP) — Australian athletes and officials will be forced to sign a legal document regarding their anti-doping history before they can be eligible for next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The Australian Olympic Committee unanimously approved the introduction of the "statutory declarations," AOC President John Coates said Tuesday in a statement.

Under Australian law, anyone who willfully makes a false statutory declaration could face up to five years in prison.

Athletes, coaches and officials must declare in the legal document either that they have no history of doping, or that they have committed a doping violation and served a sanction.

Any athletes or officials who can't answer yes to either of those options on the legal document will be ineligible for selection in the Australia team.

With doping control samples stored for later re-testing, the prospect of jail for making a false declaration is an extra deterrent for athletes contemplating using substances too advanced to be detected in conventional testing.

Coates proposed the new statutory declaration measure in the wake of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. He said over the past few months the AOC has drafted changes to its ethical behavior bylaw and the Olympic team selection bylaw to accommodate the introduction of the statutory declarations.

The Australian Crime Commission last week released a damning report after a year-long investigation that indicated widespread use of performance-enhancing substances in professional sports and links between users and organized crime.

The release didn't identify any player or team.

The federal government plans to introduce greater investigative powers for the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency and the possibility of civil penalties to curb the using of performance and image-enhancing drugs by athletes.

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