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AOC to suggest athletes declare no past doping

BRISBANE, Australia -- In one of the toughest propositions ever made to stamp out doping, future Australian Olympians will have to sign a declaration that they've never taken performance-enhancing drugs, and go to jail if they lie.

Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President John Coates said on Friday that he will propose at an AOC executive board meeting on Nov. 16 that for future games, all team members — athletes, coaches and officials — must sign a statutory declaration saying they have no “doping history.”

“If they don't sign, they don't go to the games, they won't be selected. What I don't want is for the AOC to have egg on its face like cycling has,” Coates said of his zero-tolerance approach.

The statutory declaration would form part of the Team Agreement which must be signed before someone is selected in an Olympic squad. Coates said anyone lying on a statutory declaration could have criminal charges laid, and be imprisoned for five to seven years.

If adopted it would affect athletes in contention for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“In my opinion we simply cannot allow the name of the AOC to be damaged, like that of the International Cycling Union, for not having taken every reasonable step possible to ensure that no person in authority on our Olympic team has a doping history,” Coates said.

“We're trying to make athletes realize the real risks of doping are not just being caught at the time of testing, but being caught with other evidence,” Coates said later Friday. “We want to make sure there's no hidden treasures back there.”

The move won immediate support from Australian Olympians, with kayaking gold medalist Dave Smith saying other countries should follow Australia's lead.

“It makes any person that does or considers doping to really think about what the consequences are,” said Smith, who won gold at this year's London Games. “And if you're not a doper, there is no real issue. It doesn't cause a problem for the clean athletes.”

Olympic triathlete Courtney Atkinson told Australian Associated Press it was a positive response to the Armstrong saga.

“This has brought more awareness to the fact that these things had gone on at a wider level, rather than just the one or two positive tests each year,” Atkinson said.

Last month, Australian cycling officials Matt White and Stephen Hodge lost their jobs after they admitted to doping earlier in their careers. Their admission followed the release of evidence in the Lance Armstrong doping case that saw the American rider lose his seven Tour de France titles.

On Thursday, Australian professional road cycling team Orica-GreenEDGE fired team director White.

White, who was formerly professional men's coordinator with Cycling Australia, was mentioned in the Armstrong report and he confessed to doping while riding for Armstrong's U.S. Postal team.

On Oct. 19, Cycling Australia vice president Hodge quit after admitting to doping during his time as a professional rider.

“During a stage of my career as a professional cyclist I took performance enhancing drugs — a decision I am not proud of,” Hodge said.

Hodge raced as a pro in Europe from 1987 to 1996 with several teams, was appointed to the Cycling Australia board in 1999 and became vice president in 2007.

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