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Spanish drugs clampdown

SPAIN plans to jail those who sell drugs to sports people as part of a zero-tolerance crackdown on doping.

“Doping will be considered a criminal offence and those who are caught dispensing drugs will face jail sentences,” said Sports Minister Jaimec Lissavetsky.

The move will be part of a new national anti-doping plan which aims to improve detection procedures, speed up implementation of sanctions and clampdown on trading in banned substances.

It includes creation of special anti-doping units in the police force and at the state prosecutor’s office to help deal with the project.

“This is an ambitious project with a wide scope,” said Lissavetsky.

“Its main objective is closing loopholes which currently exist in Spain. It creates a unified legal structure to help focus Spain’s fight against doping in sport.”

Leading Spanish sportsmen such as distance runner Alberto Garcia, cyclist Santi Perez and cross-country skier Johann Muehlegg have tested positive for the blood-boosting agent EPO in recent years.

The Sports Minister, who has said the plan will boost Madrid’s bid to host the 2012 Olympics, also hopes it will speed up the often drawn-out legal processes involved in doping cases.

“We want to respect the rights of individuals but also to cut down on the amount of litigation involved. We want to make it an exception rather than a rule that decisions are delayed due to the legal processes,” he said.

Athletic Bilbao’s Carlos Gurpegi is still waiting for a definitive decision on his case, after he testing positive for 19-norandrosterone, a metabolite of the banned steroid nandrolone, in the first match of the 2002-03 season.

He is appealing against a two-year ban, but has been allowed to continue playing until the case is decided. His club has said that he produces the substance naturally.

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