Bans for failing doping tests could be doubled to four years as of next year, according to the International Cycling Union (UCI).
The news comes after Austrian rider Bernhard Kohl, who came third at this year’s Tour de France, tested positive for a strain of the banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin), named CERA.
Sanctions will be made on a case-by-case basis, said UCI president Pat McQuaid, and cyclists will be judged on the gravity of the infringement and, in particular, the nature of the substance.
Kohl is the fourth Tour de France rider after Italians Riccardo Ricco and Leonardo Piepoli, to test positive for the drug, along with Germany‘s Stefan Schumacher.
McQuaid said he would like to see drug cheats slapped with bans – currently at a two-year maximum – for life.
“I have said before that I would like to see them out of the sport for good. That is purely on a personal level,” he told cyclingnews.com on Wednesday.
“However, we are obliged to follow the world anti-doping code, and that is what the UCI will do. Currently the world anti-doping code gives a maximum two-year sanction in the case of a positive test.
“From the first of January there is a bit more flexibility in it, and we can go up to a four-year ban in cases of something regarded as wilful cheating.”
Bastianelli banned for 12 months
Meanwhile, Italian cyclist Marta Bastianelli, the 2007 women’s road race world champion, has been handed a one-year ban by the anti-doping tribunal of the Italian Olympic Committee for failing a drugs test.
Bastianelli, 21, missed the Beijing Olympics after testing positive for flenfluramine, a stimulant, at the European under-23 championships in Verbania, northeast Italy, in July.
The year ban was backdated to August 7 and will run until August 6, 2009.
Bastianelli’s lawyer Giuseppe Napoleone said they would now appeal the case at the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The rider protested her innocence before the tribunal in August, saying that her local pharmacist had given her a dietary concoction of herbs that included the stimulant.
Rasmussen to appeal
Danish rider Michael Rasmussen will have an appeal against his two-year doping ban heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on November 14, court sources have said.
Former Rabobank rider Rasmussen, 34, was handed the ban, retroactively dated to July 2007, by the Monaco Cycling Federation where he was under licence.
Rabobank management withdrew him from last year’s Tour de France after he gave misleading comments to organisers on his whereabouts regarding out-of-competition testing.