Germany's anti-doping law has come into force. This means that German athletes who test positive for performance-enhancing substances could face a prison sentence from this day forward.
The legislation, which was passed by Germany's lower house, the Bundestag, and the second chamber, the Bundesrat, last month, came into force on Friday after it was signed into law by President Joachim Gauck.
"The law was overdue, important penal provisions now come into effect," said Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, whose portfolio includes sport.
"I am convinced that we can tackle doping in sport and the criminal structures behind it more effectively with this anti-doping law," de Maiziere continued, describing it as "a clear commitment of Germany for clean and fair sport."
Under the law, athletes who test positive for performance-enhancing drugs or are found guilty of possession of PEDs can face prison terms of up to three years. Those who provide them with the substances can face sentences of up to 10 years.
German sports now 'more honest'
When the Bundestag passed the legislation on November 13, Justice Minister Heiko Maas promised that it would make German sports "cleaner, safer and more honest."
"In view of the current situation in Russia, the problem doesn't seem to be getting smaller, but seems to be growing," he said, referring to a damning report released by an independent commission appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in the same week.
Based on the findings of that report, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) later provisionally suspended Russia's track and field federation (ARAF) for an indefinite period of time. Russian track-and-field athletes could be forced to sit out next summer's Olympic Games in Rio, unless the ban is lifted before then.