Gunnell calls for life bans

Sally Gunnell has welcomed plans to increase bans for convicted drugs cheats

Sally Gunnell has welcomed plans to increase bans for convicted drugs cheats

First published in National Sport © by

Former Olympic champion Sally Gunnell has welcomed plans to introduce minimum four-year bans for convicted drugs cheats.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will double the suspension for serious offences, such as taking steroids, to four years from 2015 under their new draft code, and is confident the proposal will stand up to legal challenges. Gunnell welcomed the move and called for much tougher sanctions for offenders as cycling deals with its own crisis.

The 1992 400 metres hurdles Olympic champion said: "I am way behind all that. It should have been done years ago. I have always advocated a life ban."

She added: "There should be one rule for everybody. There seem to be different rules for everyone, and I hope what's happened in cycling will stir up the whole lot and they will just get strict on all this and not allow any of that.

"We need to have four years in place, we need to look at bans, and how we can allow these athletes back in to the Olympics after they have been banned.

"We are really the only country that follows that. It just doesn't seem right."

Gunnell's comments came at the launch of the 2013 European Athletics Team Championships at Gateshead, an event which could form part of the build-up to the World Athletics Championship in Moscow for Britain's elite athletes.

While delighted with GB's return of four gold medals from London 2012, Gunnell is concerned at the lack of depth in the sport and is hoping athletics chiefs will harness the feelgood factor to ensure there is a genuine legacy.

The task of overseeing that will fall to UK Athletics' performance director Neil Black and newly-appointed head coach Peter Eriksson, who succeeded Charles van Commenee following his departure after Team GB failed to hit his eight-medal track and field target.

"I know Neil Black very well - he used to be my physio and he's now the performance director. He has got a lot of changes to make," Gunnell said. "It's not going to happen overnight, but we have got the talent in there and I would just like to see the depth coming back into it."

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