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Athletes back jail threat

The Australian Olympic Committee will use the threat of jail to get rid of drug cheats, and Canberra athletes want the international body to adopt the same stance to clean up the Games.

The AOC wants its athletes and coaches to sign statutory declarations that say they have never used performance-enhancing drugs. If they refuse to sign, they won't be selected for the Olympics.

Athletes who sign a false declaration can be sent to jail for up to five years in some states and if the proposal is approved, it will be the first time a country has forced its athletes to sign a legally-binding document.

Canberra's contingent of Olympians and Rio 2016 hopefuls backed the move and insisted they would sign if asked to.

However, they also questioned whether drug users would lie on the declaration if they had already opted to cheat.

''I've got no issue signing and I don't know anyone who would have an issue,'' two-time Olympian Sarah Cook said.


''But if athletes have already faced the moral dilemma of do I or don't I dope and they choose to dope … what's one more lie?

''Once you go down that path, it's a slippery slope.''

The proposal follows the petition of Mountain Bike Australia president Russell Baker for sports administrators to sign declarations that they have never been involved in doping. It is expected to be ratified by the AOC executive board later this month.

It is in response to the Lance Armstrong drugs scandal that resulted in him being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

Canberra rider Stephen Hodge has admitted to using EPO in the last six years of his racing career.

In the past, athletes have signed documents with their respective sports authorities saying they would abide by the rules on drugs. But the threat of jail time is a new concept.

Rower Kim Crow won silver and bronze in London and said the AOC's move was ''a great thing for clean athletes''. ''I think it is important in sending a message that sports are really serious about stamping out cheating,'' Crow said. ''The most important thing for me is the public can watch us compete and know we're playing fair … [but] it's unfortunate it's needed.''

It is not known how the statutory declaration will affect athletes who have been caught doping and have served their bans.

London silver-medal winner Jared Tallent wants the International Olympic Committee to take a strong stance against drug cheats and ban them for life.

Tallent finished second in the 50 kilometres race walk in London.

In the weeks before the Games, his biggest rival Alex Schwazer admitted to using drugs to boost his performance.

''All year I was thinking how am I going to beat [Schwazer] and then to find out he's a drug cheat … it makes you angry,'' Tallent said.

''You spend all year wondering why he's so good then you find out he's cheating … the penalties need to be harsher.

''A lot of sports need a shake-up to clear out doping. I believe that if you fail a test, that should be it. You should never compete again.''

Kookaburras reserve goalkeeper Andrew Charter will sign a statutory declaration, but wants athletes to be educated on the ramifications of signing a false declaration.

Sprinter Melissa Breen made her Olympic debut in London in the women's 100-metre sprint. Athletics has been plagued by drug cheats in the past and Breen wants zero tolerance. ''Of course I would [sign the statutory declaration],'' Breen said. ''If an athlete is caught, they should be banned for life … once a cheater, always a cheater.

''Cheating and doping needs to be stopped, everyone who is clean would be happy to sign this document and it's a step to cleaning up sport. I'm a clean athlete and always will be … it's probably naive to think everyone is clean but that's out of my control and I can't worry about it.''