WADA to introduce four-year doping ban

LaShawn Merritt, who challenged the Osaka Rule, pulls up injured at the London 2012 Olympics

The so-called Osaka Rule, which banned those guilty of serious doping offences from the following Olympic Games, has been dropped from the latest draft version of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code.

Rule 45 of the Olympic Charter had been introduced to prevent any athlete banned for six months or more for doping from the subsequent Olympic Games, but WADA now plans to scrap it in the revised code set for introduction in 2015 and instead increase the sanction for serious offences from a two-year ban to four years.

A statement on the WADA website read: "The present draft (of the WADA code) substantially strengthens the sanctions for serious violations, increasing from two years to four years the penalties, for example, for the use of anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, masking agents, trafficking and prohibited methods.

"Consequently, Rule 45 of the Olympic Charter has not been included in the draft version of the code. Also known as the Osaka Rule, it was part of the Olympic Charter until last year when it was ruled non-compliant with the code."

"The present draft (of the WADA code) substantially strengthens the sanctions for serious violations" - WADA

The Osaka Rule was successfully challenged by American sprinter LaShawn Merritt in the Court of Arbitration for Sport last year.

Merritt was banned for 21 months in 2009 having failed a drugs test for a banned substance found in a penis-enhancement product but under Rule 45 he would also have been excluded from this summer's Games in London.

His case was taken up by the United States Olympic Committee and he was cleared to compete, but pulled up in the 400 metres semi-final with a hamstring problem.