The World Olympians Association has backed calls to ban doping cheats from the next Olympics ©WOA

The World Olympians Association (WOA) has said that all athletes who commit a doping offence should be banned from the next edition of the Olympic Games and other major Championships.

In a statement today, the organisation which represents more than 120,000 Olympians worldwide called for the reintroduction of the controversial Osaka Rule, which bars athletes convicted of serious doping offences from the next Olympics.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes' Commission vice-chair Tony Estanguet called for athletes who have served suspensions longer than six months to be excluded from the next Games at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Foundation Board meeting in Glasgow last month.

"We wish to state that automatic exclusion from the next Olympic Games and major championships should be mandatory for all athletes who are found guilty of having committed a doping offence, as recently proposed to WADA by the IOC," the WOA statement said today.

The Osaka Rule - previously Rule 45 of the Olympic Charter - was originally drafted to allow the IOC to prevent athletes who had received a doping sanction of more than six months from representing their country at the Games.

It was introduced by the IOC in 2007 during the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championship in Osaka - which gave the rule its name.

It was, however, successfully challenged by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in 2011 on behalf of Beijing 2008 400 metres champion LaShawn Merritt at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The USOC claimed the rule was unfair because it was effectively punishing an athlete twice for the same offence and CAS agreed.

The WOA statement today comes after the publication of the second part of the damning McLaren Report on Friday (December 9), which outlined further allegations about doping in Russia.

Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren claimed that more than 1,000 Russian athletes from 30 summer, winter and Paralympic sports were involved in a state-sponsored drug-use scheme which he described as an "institutional conspiracy". 

A complicated system of sample manipulation allegedly took place at Russia's home Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, where tests which would have failed were switched for clean ones.

The IOC said McLaren's findings showed that there was a "fundamental attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games". 

The World Olympians Association has commented after Richard McLaren released his second report ©Getty Images
The World Olympians Association has commented after Richard McLaren released his second report ©Getty Images

Its President Thomas Bach called for lifetime Olympic bans for those found guilty of tampering with samples, something backed up by the WOA today.

"There should be life bans for those found guilty of organising and administrating the systematic cheating," the organisation's statement said, while also showing support for two IOC Commissions which will assess McLaren's findings.

These are an inquiry panel chaired by Swiss politician and IOC Ethics Commission member Samuel Schmid and a disciplinary probe headed by Swiss IOC member Denis Oswald.

The WOA called for their proposed "three-point plan" to be implemented to rid sport of cheats.

This includes provisions for athletes from tainted countries to still be allowed to compete if they are clean, a view the WOA expressed before the Rio 2016 Olympics in August when a blanket ban on Russia was a possibility.

In the end, the IOC allowed International Federations (IFs) to rule individually on whether Russians could compete in their sports.

"The World Olympians Association (WOA) wishes to express the voice of Olympians to help make sure that justice is served and, by working in unison with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), ensure a more robust worldwide anti-doping system can be put in place," the WOA statement said. 

"We support the position of the IOC Executive Board and its very strong statement, which we believe reflects the views of all Olympians, namely that Professor Richard McLaren and his team have uncovered an attack on the fundamental principles of the Olympic Games.

"The review of the anti-doping system should lead to the enactment of the WOA proposed three-point plan: testing and sanctioning independent from sports organisations and Governments as proposed by the IOC, a dramatic increase in funding to stay ahead of the cheats linked to an improvement in the governance of the anti-doping system, and a clearer compliance system to ensure that clean athletes are not disadvantaged if their National Olympic Committee/IF/National Anti-Doping Agency is found guilty of cheating with evaluation and sanctioning powers strictly separated from the compliance assessment.

"We believe that if these three points are enacted Olympians can be assured that they will be competing on a level playing field and cheats will be driven out of sport in general and the Olympic Games in particular."