Source: www.insidethegames.biz

By: Mike Rowbottom at the Olympic Park in London

July 27 - Sebastian Coe has voiced his vehement opposition to reports that the UK Anti-Doping Authority (UKAD) wants more lenient punishments for athletes found to have taken recreational drugs.

And the London 2012 chairman, who has ambitions to challenge for the Presidency of the International Association of Athletics Federations, insisted that if he were in a position to do so he would change the automatic ban for doping abuses from two years back to its previous level of four years.

A report in today's  Times says the UKAD has told the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that the current punishment of an automatic two-year ban for those found to have taken substances such as cocaine or ecstasy, as opposed to substances that enhance performance, is too harsh.

However, Coe, a double Olympic champion at 1500 metres and a vice-president of the IAAF, rejected that position directly today as he showed the IOC President, Jacques Rogge, around the newly opened London 2012 Aquatics Centre.

"Let's get real here," Coe said.

"What are the messages we are putting out to people?

"There's no ambiguity here, this is not arcane naval law.

"You want to be a part of this project?

"Then don't take drugs.

"Full stop.

"There is no place.

"You can't mix the messages - I am really strong about that.

"This isn't a case any longer of sitting there thinking that even two years is appropriate.

"I don't think that, I will, if I'm ever in a position to do so in track and field, I will move it, we will move that to four years.

"You have to.

"It's about confidence, it's about trust.

"What am I saying to kids out there?

"To those kids we have just seen from Newham Swimming Club?

"'Well, look, we might take a view on ecstasy or cocaine' I'm sorry - it's the morality of the knackers' yard.

"You've got to fight this and you've got to be clear.

"I don't know how this report has come about.

"I'm sure this may be only blue-sky thinking, and that's fine.

"It's right people from time to time think fresh things.

"But I will never be moved on this.

"The problem I've got now is I'm prepared to concede, 20 or 30 years ago, there were systems where there was coercion.

"You came out of some countries, you had no idea probably at the age of 13 or 14 what you were taking.

"But in liberal democracies, where you spend millions of pounds every year on educating young people, important as it is, there are no unhappy accidents out there.

"If you are an international competitor you know what the rules are.

"It could not be clearer.

"We spend as much money in the IAAF on testing and education programmes as we do on some of our development programmes.

"We will go on doing that.

"But there comes a point where all the education and all the 'let's help you through this process', it damages, it kills your sport.

"If you've got people who are sitting out there in that stadium, and they for a second doubt that what they're watching is legitimate, and the athlete in lane four has any doubt that this is anything other than hard work, great coaching and natural talent, you're knackered.

"You've got to win this one."


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