By Mike Rowbottom in Doha

lamine diack_10-05-12May 10 - Lamine Diack, President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), insisted here today that he did not support life bans for athletes convicted of serious doping offences.

Speaking at the launch of this year's Samsung Diamond League, which gets underway here tomorrow in the Qatar Sports Club Stadium, Diack (pictured above) announced: "I am convinced that we should not condemn for life," but added: "We have to make [punishment] severe."

Asked if he would prefer to see a standard four-year ban rather than the current two-year ruling, he responded: "Yes.

"But we have to work together.

"I think we would prefer a four-year ban, but we can't change it because we have to act as a family in sport."

"But athletics has no lessons to learn about doping control from anyone.

"We are a sport that, 20 years ago, responded to an athlete refusing to take a test by banning them for four years.

"At last year's IAAF World Championships in Daegu we took blood samples from 1,850 athletes.

"We have since suspended an athlete for four years for a violation.

"We will continue our struggle against drugs so the best and cleanest athletes win."

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Last month the British Olympic Association (BOA) had to drop the bylaw they had implemented since 1992 whereby any British athlete found guilty of a serious doping offence was rendered ineligible for selection at any future Olympics.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that the BOA law did not comply with the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) global doping code.

Diack said that he was happy with the Olympic Stadium which will form the centrepiece of the London Games.

"I have just come from London, where I visited the Stadium, which has an 80,000 capacity, and I am satisfied we will have 10 days where athletics fills a big stadium, and we are satisfied that at the end we will have an excellent stadium for athletics in London," he said.

Diack's next port of call, he said, would be Moscow, where he planned to speak to the Russian Minister of Sport, Vitaly Mutko, about implementing a programme promoting athletics among schoolchildren.

"In sport you have always to look to promote and to improve," he said.

"We understand that we always need to do better because the future of our sport is at stake.

"That is why school sport is so important."

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After praising local organisers for putting together a field of "high quality" despite the fact that many athletes are competing less in Olympic year, Diack added: "I think that the Diamond League has proved itself now after three years and it opens a special season this year.

"It is the 100th anniversary of the IAAF and we are very happy to open our celebrations in Doha.

"During the two past years of meetings there has been good television coverage, and the sponsors, Samsung have backed it for a third year in a row.

"Figures for attendances have also been very important.

"I wish that we will have another excellent year in the Diamond League as we look forward to July, when we hope we will show that we have the number one Olympic sport."

Abdullah Al Zaini (pictured above, right), meeting director and President of the Qatar Association of Athletics Federation, responded: "For this meeting, as the President said, we have had some difficulties in attracting athletes because it is the Olympic season.

"But we have managed to attract a good field of athletes and stars whom we will be happy to see performing at their best here tomorrow."

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