Athletes who test positive for cocaine could face heavily reduced bans under new anti-doping rules

Athletes who test positive for cocaine could face bans of just ONE MONTH under new anti-doping rules with maximum sanction set to be reduced from two years to three months

  • The current maximum sanction for athletes taking cocaine is two years  
  • UKAD say the rules which come into force next year are a ‘considerable shift’  
  • The move is expected to free up resources for UKAD to focus on other areas 

Sportspeople who test positive for cocaine could be banned for just one month under new anti-doping rules.

From January 1, if an athlete proves they took the recreational drug out of competition, they will now face a maximum three-month sanction – down from two years under the current code.

And offenders can reduce their punishment by a further two months if they complete a rehabilitation programme, prompting criticism that the changes give drug users a ‘green light’.

Athletes are set to face heavily reduced sanctions under UKAD’s new anti-doping rules

UK Anti-Doping admit that their rules, which follow changes to the World Anti-Doping Agency code for 2021, are a ‘considerable shift’.

But Nisha Dutt, UKAD head of case management, said: ‘In my time at UKAD, I have seen a number of cocaine findings and they are a considerable drain on resources. That resource could be redeployed elsewhere to try and catch cheats that are taking performance-enhancing drugs.

‘It is not a green light because you have an athlete that is facing a ban. Even a one-month ban or a three-month ban can be quite considerable for particular athletes that are competing in certain contexts.

Nisha Dutt, UKAD’s head of case management, believes shortened bans will still be effective

‘But the rationale really is that where we find our athletes using recreational drugs, there should be a priority on their health, rather than just issuing arbitrary lengthy bans.’

If athletes are found to have taken substances of abuse in the competition period, they face a two-year ban – down from four years under the current rules.

In another change, the in-competition period will now commence from 11.59pm the day before their event, rather than from 12 hours before their sporting event as it is at the moment.

Dutt says that a ‘handful of athletes’ will be eligible for a reduction of their ban from next month and UKAD are currently reviewing those cases.