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'Overwhelming support' for tougher anti-doping code

World authorities have given "overwhelming support" to a stricter anti-doping code. The new measures, to take effect next year, will include tougher sanctions and more thorough testing.

"There was overwhelming support for the direction in which the code is heading," World Anti-Doping (WADA) President John Fahey said Wednesday after the first full day of the World Conference on Doping in Sport. "The theme that came through time and time again is we are working for the clean athletes of the world."

Delegates at the conference, which was held in Johannesburg, called for extending bans for athletes caught doping from two years to four, to be implemented at the start of 2015.

"The overwhelming majority of athletes who made submissions … made it abundantly clear that a more severe penalty was what they wanted," Fahey said.

The conference is set to ratify the changes on Friday, and governments and federations will be given a year to amend their laws accordingly.

Record tests for Sochi

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach (pictured above) threw his support behind the plans, saying stricter punishments would protect "the clean athletes and therefore must be our ultimate goal. That must be the first priority."

Bach added that a record number of doping controls are to be conducted before and during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Some 1,269 athlete samples will be taken before the Feburary 7-23 Games, he said, which is 57 percent more than during the run-up to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Another 2,453 doping controls will be carried out during the games, compared to 2,149 four years ago.

"With a record number of samples and pre-competition tests, we shall be smarter and tougher in our fight against doping," Bach said.

Improvements for Jamaica

On Wednesday, WADA also announced that it would work with Jamaican anti-doping authorities to improve testing there. Six high-profile athletes from Jamaica, including former 100-meter world record holder Asafa Powell and Olympic gold medalists Veronica Campell-Brown and Sherone Simpson, have tested positive for banned substances this year.

"We went to Jamaica at the invitation of the government to audit the process after media reports and we put an extensive report together for them," said WADA Director General David Howman.

"We are now working with them to implement the recommendations," he added. "We are confident that Jamaica's issues will be resolved."

dr/mkg (Reuters, AFP, dpa)