Athletics’ world governing body, the IAAF, will hand four-year bans to those caught doping from 2015.
The sport has been thrown into turmoil recently by news that Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell and Veronica Campbell-Brown had failed tests, along with a number of Russian and Turkish athletes.
Such developments have cast a cloud over the World Championships, which get under way in Moscow this weekend.
The IAAF has moved to reaffirm its “unwavering commitment” against doping in the build-up, with its council today approving plans to revert to four-year bans for offenders from January 1, 2015.
A statement approved by acclamation at the IAAF Congress in Moscow read: ``The IAAF Council would like to take the opportunity offered by the gathering of the world athletics family in Moscow on the occasion of the 49th IAAF Congress to reiterate the IAAF's long standing and unwavering commitment against doping in athletics.
“The IAAF has an ethical obligation to the overwhelming majority of athletes and officials who believe in clean sport.
“As a leader in this fight the IAAF has built and delivers a programme that is well resourced, far reaching, sophisticated and increasingly able to detect and remove from the sport those who breach our anti-doping rules.
“The IAAF has historically been the pioneering international sport federation in the field of anti-doping. The IAAF began out of competition testing in 1989 and blood testing in 2001 and almost all of the key procedures in anti-doping currently in use have been originated by our sport.
“The IAAF’s collection of the blood samples of nearly 2000 athletes in Daegu, as part of our commitment to the Athlete Biological Passport, was an historic achievement across all sports, and continues in Moscow.
“The IAAF will carry on investing in education, controls and sanctions, applying the most sophisticated methods in pursuit of its goal, and using every means at its disposal to expose the cheats.
“The new WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) Code, which will come into force on 1 January 2015, will reflect our firm commitment to have tougher penalties and the IAAF will return to four year sanctions for serious doping offences.
“The IAAF will not stint in its resolve to do everything in its power to eradicate cheating and the Council invites Congress to strongly endorse this statement.”
Current rules restrict the IAAF to handing out two-year bans to first-time offenders, meaning many can serve without missing the chance to compete at the Olympic Games.
The ban for athletes was originally four years but was halved in line with the WADA code.
London 2012 chairman and IAAF vice-president Sebastian Coe last month said the current two-year suspension “did a lot of damage” to athletics.
World marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe echoed those sentiments yesterday, saying of the move to four-year bans: “Unfortunately, legally, there can’t be lifetime bans but this is a step in the right direction.”