WMMs announce tougher doping policy

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TOKYO -- Standing shoulder to shoulder on a stage in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building here, directors of the six marathons of the World Marathon Majors announced Friday that they had agreed on tougher anti-doping measures designed to thwart and punish drug cheats.

Contracts awarded to elite athletes competing in the commercial marathons of Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York and Tokyo will now include clauses for both the suspension of payment and repayment of prize money, appearance fees and bonus for doping convictions.

"As a group we want to speak with one voice on the subject of performance enhancing drugs," Boston Marathon race director Tom Grilk told a symposium of race organizers.

Specifically, the new athlete contracts will contain provisions that include the right for the events to suspend payment and to demand repayment of prize money, appearances fees, and performance bonuses for any athlete found in violation of a criminal offense involving drugs, anti-doping rules, or if for any other reason the athlete's result has been nullified by a relevant governing body. These new measures come on top of the group's present policy of not inviting any athlete found guilty of a doping offense to participate in its events.

Paula Radcliffe, the women's world record holder for the marathon, voiced strong support for the new policy. She said through a statement, "This is a great initiative and a very positive and strong move by the World Marathon Majors, which is once again leading the field by example. I would love to see all major events follow its lead. The cheats need to understand that they are not welcome in our sport and will be caught and made to pay."

The announcement came on the same day that Athletics Kenya said that three marathon athletes had been banned for doping: Wilson Erupe Loyanae, Nixon Kiplagat Cherutich and Moses Kiptoo Kurgat. Loyanae was the winner of last October's Dong-A Ilbo Gyeongju Marathon, where he set a course-record 2:06:46. He will be stripped of that title.

"Loyanae is a top marathoner and he is in the top 30 but we will not spare anyone, we are taking doping seriously," Athletics Kenya secretary David Okeyo told Capital FM in an interview. "We have nothing to hide. As soon as we establish any athlete has doped, we shall expose them."

In a statement, World Marathon Majors officials said that they supported increased out-of-competition drug testing in Kenya and Ethiopia given the large number of top athletes coming from those nations.