The Government has ruled out jailing drugs cheats following a review into whether doping should be criminalised, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.
Sports minister Tracey Crouch will announce on Tuesday the outcome of a two-year-long look into outlawing the use of performance-enhancing substances. The review, launched at the height of the Russian doping scandal, found there was not a case for the UK joining the likes of France, Italy, Germany and Australia in criminalising doping.
However, it did recommend that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) looks at tightening the rules regarding Therapeutic Use Exemptions, the alleged abuse of which has been highlighted recently.
It also recommended that UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) control officers be given access to all elite sporting events in the UK without prior notice, amid concerns athletes are being made aware when they may face in-competition testing.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said in a statement: “The review has concluded that there is not a case for criminalisation and that the UK has an appropriate regulatory framework to tackle doping. This follows extensive interviews with sports bodies and anti-doping organisations, including the World Anti-Doping Agency and UK Anti-Doping.
“None of those interviewed were in favour of criminalisation. Sports bodies believe that their investigations would be affected by criminalisation of doping in sport as it would slow down their own
processes. The review found that criminalising the act of doping in sport would not add to combating doping in sport with the provisions that already exist sufficient.
“The report found that the strongest deterrent for athletes and their support staff is lengthy bans from their involvement in sport as well as the inevitable loss of earnings as a result of that.”
Crouch said: “The UK is one of the leading nations in the world in anti-doping with robust testing,
information-sharing and investigation processes in place. It was right that we looked into the case for criminalising doping.
“However, the strong consensus is that it would not necessarily aid the fight against drug cheats.
“We are not complacent though which is why there are recommendations in the review that I urge the anti-doping authorities, sports governing bodies and health organisations to consider to further strengthen our approach.” Meanwhile, Crouch refused to join UKAD and other national anti-doping agencies in calling for Russia to be thrown out of February’s Winter Olympics over its state-sponsored cheating at the 2014 Games.
Crouch, who sits on the WADA foundation board, insisted the country’s participation was a matter for the International Olympic Committee.