Athletes will soon need to have completed an online anti-doping education programme to be allowed to compete in European Athletics events ©Getty Images

Competitors who want to take part in major international events may soon have to complete an online anti-doping education platform under a radical proposal by European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen. 

Hansen announced today that he plans to introduce the new criteria starting with next year's European Athletics Under-18 Championships in Györ in Hungary.

The target is that by the time the 2020 European Championships are staged in Paris all athletes will have completed the programme called "I Run Clean".

Hansen had pledged in his manifesto before his election in 2015 to introduce "enhanced anti-doping education leading to a ‘driver’s licence’ to compete".

All athletes competing at European Championship events now wear bibs saying “I run clean”, “I throw clean” or “I jump clean” - an innovation introduced in December 2015.

"For the last 18 months, athletes at our Championships have been wearing number bibs with the words ‘I Run Clean’ as a statement of their commitment to fair play and doping-free sport," Hansen said.

"Now we are offering a fantastic tool branded with the same words to help them understand exactly what they have to do to keep that pledge.

"I believe the vast majority of athletes want to compete fairly and want to know that others will do the same. 

"Our responsibility is to provide reliable information in a way they want to receive it, and it only makes sense to insist that everyone goes through this important preparation before they are allowed to compete in our events.

"The image of athletics will be enhanced if we can show parents, the public and partners that we are doing everything we possibly can to keep our sport clean."

Every athlete at last year's European Championships in Amsterdam wore a bib claiming they competed clean ©Getty Images
Every athlete at last year's European Championships in Amsterdam wore a bib claiming they competed clean ©Getty Images

The campaign, which still has to be officially passed by the European Athletics Council, has been developed with input from athletes, sport officials, educationists and doping control experts.

It comprises eight user-friendly interactive modules that can be accessed through computers, tablets and smartphones from the "I Run Clean" platform.

The units cover the anti-doping rules, doping control procedures and issues such as dietary supplements and therapeutic use exemptions.

It will be available in 12 languages by the end of this year, the Lausanne-based European Athletics claim. 

According to Dr Pedro Branco, chairman of European Athletics Medical and Anti-Doping Commission, elite athletes competing at European-level events are the initial target group because they are at the greatest risk from doping but mainly because they are role models. 

"When all national athletes, even youngsters, understand that this programme is something all top athletes need to do, they will be interested and they will want to get their own 'I Run Clean' diploma," he said. 

“Our long-term aim is to help our Member Federations take the fight against doping to every athlete in Europe. 

"We are currently working on the translations and starting to work with the Federations to promote I Run Clean as a supplement or support for their own efforts to reach out to grassroots athletes and kids through clubs and schools."