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Doping should be made a criminal offence - Paula Radcliffe

The former Olympian outlined her reasons for the proposed action on BBC radio.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

PAULA RADCLIFFE HAS come out to suggest that doping should be a made criminal offence.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, the marathon world record holder said that stronger punishments must be dolled out to dopers, in order to effectively deter athletes from taking performance-enhancing substances.

“The risks of cheating have to outweigh the benefits and the benefits are greater in road-running because there is more money available on the roads and people who choose to cheat can (in the) short-term, make those gains.”

I think that’s why we have to move forward in terms of making the risks greater, so making sure that cheats have to pay back everything that they’ve won and that they would also be liable for the damages that they’ve taken from other athletes because let’s face it, they damage the sport.

“They damage their fellow athletes in many ways by stealing moments from them, by also putting their own reputations in danger by choosing to cheat, and they damage the reputation of the race.

She added: ”I think the costs for them have to be much greater to discourage cheating much more. Whether that means actually going as far as sending cheats to jail… but certainly making sure that they are financially liable for everything that they’ve cost the sport and their fellow athletes.”

Radcliffe went on to clarify that she is not suggesting that doping offenders should be imprisoned, but did emphasise the importance of making it a criminal offence.

I do advocate making doping a criminal offence, so that you can face criminal sanctions for doping, for supply of doping and for distribution of doping and for managing the entourage that also encourage doping and facilitate it.

“If it becomes a criminal offence, it makes it much easier for them to track (doping offenders) by using agencies such as FBI, customs agencies and (it) makes it far easier to raid athlete’s houses and be able to search where you have strong suspicions.”

Radcliffe’s comments come in the wake of news that Olympic and London Marathon champion, Jemima Sumgong, tested positive for the banned substance EPO in an out-of-competition test. 

Sumgong was the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic gold in the marathon, when she triumphed in Rio. She was also one of a number of key Kenyan athletes who welcomed a new initiative to eradicate doping earlier this year, in which they agreed to be monitored by doctors appointed by the IAAF and Athletics Kenya.

Radcliffe was previously linked with doping violations in a 2015 during an investigation by British lawmakers. She subsequently released a lengthy statement in which she firmly denied the allegations.

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