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China threatens jail time for drug cheats

China appears set on showing the world it is serious about anti-doping

A new method of mass spectrometry could detect some drugs previously undetectable.

According to a report in Inside the Games, China plans to make sport doping punishable by law, with jail sentences threatened for those who fail drug tests. 

The site quoted the Chinese news agency Xinhua, which reported that jail sentences could take effect early in 2019. China is adopting such measures in an effort to show the world it is serious about anti-doping.

RELATED: Russia’s reinstatement by WADA called “greatest treachery against clean athletes in Olympic history”

But China is not the first to take such an extreme stance on doping in sport. Germany has had similar laws since 2015, though so far they have not been strictly enforced and no athletes have served jail time. And in the US, the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, introduced to the Senate earlier this month, would allow US agencies to deal with institutional doping the same way it deals with fraud (though this is believed to be intended for use against Russia rather than its own athletes). The bill is named for Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the whistleblower who alerted the world to the extent of Russian state-sponsored doping in 2015.

WADA and the IOC are reported to be against criminal sanctions for dopers, suggesting that the scope of the Rodchenkov Act is too broad and makes all athletes vulnerable. But many others are critical of both WADA and the IOC in their handling of Russia, especially WADA’s recent decision to reinstate it. 

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