France toughens anti-doping laws
By Agence France Presse
The French government on Wednesday moved to toughen anti-doping legislation ahead of this summer’s Tour de France.
Members of Parliament adopted a new law which penalizes the possession and trafficking of doping products in sport with prison sentences and fines. Under the new measures offenders will receive up of five years in jail and a 75,000-euro fine, when it relates to drug trafficking, explained French Minister for Sport Bernard Laporte.
The penalty will be increased to seven years in prison and a fine of 150,000 euros when the offence is committed as part of an organized group or against a minor.
The sentence will comprise a year in prison and a 3,750-euro fine when the offence is committed by a sports person for his personal use.
“At present, possession as well as other actions characterizing trafficking ? production, transport, importation and exportation of doping products ? can’t be suppressed,” Laporte said.
Products which were justified medically will not be included, he added.
Former France rugby union coach Laporte was however forced to defend his first bill since joining the government last October amid claims by the opposition that the measures were being pushed through in haste before the Tour de France.
The world’s most famous cycling race has been marked by a number of doping scandals in recent years, beginning with the 1998 Festina scandal that lead directly to the creation of the World Anti-Doping Agency the following year.
The new statute adds the force of criminal law to French anti-doping efforts, which are largely regulatory in nature.