November 17, 2009 (Vienna, Austria) – Under a proposed new amendment in the Austrian criminal code, doping may be treated as major fraud, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. This planned addition to the country’s criminal code may come into effect as early as January 1 of next year, reports the Austrian news site oe.at.
Under the proposed amendment, a guilty athlete could face charges under Paragraph 147 of the Austrian Criminal Code: Major fraud is committed when the accused athlete is found guilty of using banned substances or methods in sport, which are considered doping under the anti-doping code by the World Antidoping Agency (WADA). Major fraud is punishable by up to three years imprisonment under Austrian law, or up to 10 years if damages exceed 50,000 Euro (nearly 80,000 CAD).
This Parliamentary bill will be reviewed by the Ministerial Council today and must still go before the National Council at a later date before it is approved.
The proposed amendment is an effort by Austrian government to battle the problem of doping in sport. It is especially applicable to the high-profile case of ex-professional Austrian cyclist, Bernhard Kohl, who tested positive for EPO during the 2008 Tour de France.