New WADA code set to reintroduce Osaka Rule

Friday, 01 June 2012
By Duncan Mackay

World Anti_Doping_Agency_logoJune 1 - The "Osaka Rule", which bans athletes convicted of serious doping offences from competing in the next Olympic Games, is set to be resurrected under new plans drawn up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The controversial penalty - also known as "Rule 45" - had been introduced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2007 but was challenged last year by the United States Olympic Committee on behalf of Beijing 2008 400 metres champion LaShawn Merritt, who had been banned in October 2010 for 21 months after testing positive for a banned a substance contained in an over-the-counter penis enlargement product.

They successfully argued at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) that it was unfair because it was a second punishment for the same offence. 

That, in turn, led to WADA challenging the British Olympic Association's (BOA) bylaw which bans any athlete convicted of a serious doping offence representing Team GB at the Olympics, leaving the way clear for convicted drugs cheats like sprinter Dwain Chambers and David Millar to compete at London 2012.

But the CAS indicated that Rule 45 could be reintroduced if it was included as part of the WADA code.

A new clause in the draft code, 10.15, titled "Limitation on Participation in the Olympic Games'' says in serious doping cases "as an additional sanction, the athlete or other person shall be ineligible to participate in the next Summer Olympic Games and the next Winter Olympic Games taking place after the end of the period of ineligibility otherwise imposed."

WADA's notes, however, warn that they do not want organisations like the BOA trying to introduce further sanctions against their athletes.

"The Code's objective of harmonisation would be seriously undermined if multiple Anti-Doping Organisations were each allowed to impose their own anti-doping participation rules," they say.

"The balance has been struck to provide for a special sanction limiting participation in the Olympic Games. This article is consistent with the CAS decisions in USOC v. IOC (the Merritt case) and British Olympic Association (BOA) v. World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).''

The new code is due to be approved in autumn 2013 at a meeting in Johannesburg and implemented in 2015.

To read Mike Rowbottom on the new proposal click here.

To read the full proposed WADA Code click pdfhere.

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