Britain’s double former Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes believes stronger punishments, including criminalising doping, are required to clean-up the “minefield of greed” endemic in sport today.
Dame Kelly, who crowned a 10-year international career with Olympic 800 and 1500 metres gold medals at Athens 2004, also believes scrapping all world records and starting again is a potentially necessary solution, if not a perfect one.
The Briton was speaking at the launch event for the Virgin London Marathon on April 24, where she plans to make her debut over the 26.2 mile distance, more than 10 years after she officially retired from the sport.
“We need laws, rules and tough sanctions,” the 45-year-old told insidethegames here today.
“It’s so bad, it’s about time, there’s no point going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to see if you can extend a ban or give a life ban.
“Make a proper law, an international law – you take drugs then you are banned.
“Why wouldn’t you do this?
“An athlete knows they have taken a substance they should not have taken, there’s enough out there to educate them.”
A controversial new anti-doping law has officially come into force this month in Germany, with professional sportsmen and women who test positive for drugs or are found guilty of possession of banned substances facing the prospect of prison terms of up to three years.
Support staff who provide them with the substances, including doctors and coaches, could be jailed for up to 10 years.
Germany followed several other European countries, including Italy, Spain and France, in passing similar laws, while Japan is another currently considering one.
The idea, though, is unpopular with some governing bodies, with World Anti-Doping Agency President Sir Craig Reedie claiming his organisation are “completely opposed to the criminalisation of athletes”.
It would also be hard to enforce legally at an international level.
Dame Kelly, who competed at the same time as Britain’s two remaining world record holders, triple jumper Jonathan Edwards and marathon runner Paula Radcliffe, admitted to being in two minds about whether abolishing all existing world records was a good idea.
This idea was proposed by UK Athletics in their “Manifesto for Clean Athletes” earlier this month, although it has been largely criticised for discriminating against record-holders who have not doped, as well as for the assumption that all future records will be set clean.
Dame Kelly did not rule it out, however, citing the absurdly fast nature of times in her own events, such as the 800m mark of 1min 53.28 set by Czechoslovakia’s Jarmila Kratochvílová in 1983.
This is almost three seconds faster than Dame Kelly’s personal best of 1:56.21 set in Monaco in 1995, a time that remains the British record.
“It’s a really hard one, because some of the women’s records are ridiculous,” she said
“My events are absolutely crazy.
“The hard thing is you are penalising everyone because those athletes who are clean, like myself, are tarnished and some of the records have to be legitimate.
“Saying that, it might be best to set a precedent, to draw the slate clean and go again.
“We might have to do it to show, now, in 2016, we don’t take this lying and deceit anymore.”
Dame Kelly claimed “surprise” was the wrong word to describe her reaction to the failures themselves but admitted shock at the scale of recent allegations to have rocked the sport.
These have included a French criminal investigation against former International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Lamine Diack, who is accused of being involved in a plot to blackmail athletes in return for the covering up of failed doping tests.
“Having the President involved, how bad is that?,” said Dame Kelly, a three-time World Championship medallist and two-time Commonwealth Games champion.
“But then you look at other sports, which are getting done for match fixing et cetera…
“I thought sport was about passion and achievement and commitment – now it’s a minefield of greed.
“But it’s good this has been exposed.
“Because until it’s out in the open, when are they going to make changes?
“Now is the starting point to actually make changes happen, and I think that is the best thing for the sport.”
By Nick Butler
Republished with permission insidethegames.biz