© Copyright – 2014 – Athletics Illustrated

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has stepped up recently in regards to battling the performance enhancing drug (PED) problem that appears to be plaguing the sport of athletics.

The founder of WADA, Canadian lawyer Dick Pound, is leading an investigation into the apparent systematic doping that is reported to be going on in Russia, involving the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) and a purported 99.9% of their athletes according to the documentary made by ARD German television, How Russia Makes Champions.

Pound told the Associated Press “We’re not there to whitewash anything. We’re there to get the facts, reach conclusions and make recommendations.”

WADA has also adopted new, longer punishment for first time drug cheats, as well as coaches, agents and medical practitioners who support any athlete who cheats; worded as “supporters”. The new WADA anti-doping code includes a first time offence of four years. Until December 31st 2014, athletes were given two years for a first-time offence and four years for a second infraction.

Athletes who are careless and accidentally dope will be given a two-year-ban from competition. Athletes who miss tests previously were given a one-year sanction, if they missed three times in one year. That has been increased to 18 months.

WADA will continue to support guilty athletes who help investigators by reducing sanctions. WADA endeavors to bring more incentive to athletes who provide “substantial assistance” in exposing cheats and supporters of cheating athletes.

Sports minister in the  UK, Helen Grant said, “Successful implementation will mean an innovative and robust anti-doping programme that reaches further than ever before, to more athletes, more support personnel and more sport lovers, all of who want to be part of sport free from doping.” She added, “We will see tougher sanctions – not just for athletes, but also for those who assist in the doping process.”