MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Governments should look at criminalising doping in sports and increasing the resources of anti-doping agencies to include investigative functions in the wake of the Lance Armstrong revelations, the president of Cycling Australia has said.
“I just wonder if we haven’t got to the stage of investigating in Australia of considering whether doping in sport ought to be criminalised,” Klaus Mueller told reporters in Melbourne on Friday after the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) released a report that accused Armstrong of driving a systemic doping programme within his U.S. Postal team.
“What I think the USADA findings have unearthed is that there may now be the need to sit down with government and work out whether the powers that (Australian anti-doping body) ASADA have are adequate and whether their resources are adequate.
“We would like to sit down with ASADA and the government to revisit that issue.”
Mueller said he was “immensely disappointed” at the findings in the USADA report, and while his stance was a personal one, he felt Cycling Australia may now take the issue forward.
“(I think) we are ready to take the next step to say to government that it ought to be criminalised,” Mueller added.
“That sends out a very strong message to all sporting people that this conduct is very serious, in fact criminal, warranting jail sentence and it gives the police the power to investigate.”
The 41-year-old Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by USADA after he refused to contest the charges, has steadfastly denied taking drugs throughout his career, pointing to the fact he had never failed a doping test.
Mueller, however, said Cycling Australia had been advocating for several years that drug testing was not enough to catch cheats and that further investigation was needed.
“There was systemic doping that was not uncovered by the hundreds of tests that Armstrong speaks about,” Mueller said before adding that he felt that initiatives by the UCI, the world governing body, were indicative of their desire to stamp out doping in the sport.
“I’d be kidding myself if I wasn’t to admit the reputation of the sport hasn’t been tarnished by the behaviour behind these findings.
“The issue of doping is not confined to cycling but we have taken a hit because we are more active in trying to hunt down the transgressors than others.
“All I can say with some confidence is that there is clear evidence the sport is cleaner now than it has been in the past. That is largely due to initiatives introduced by the UCI.
“We think the sport has turned the corner.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O'Brien