Coe says ‘ban drug cheats for life’

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There should be zero tolerance of drugs cheats, London 2012 chairman Lord Coe said.

“I am unreconstructed on this – I would have a life ban,” he said, speaking after US 400m Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt’s ban against competing at the Olympics was overturned.

Merritt won a case in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after challenging the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) controversial rule 45. It states that anyone banned for a doping offence for sixth months or more should miss the next Olympics – even if their suspension has expired.

Merritt will now be able to defend his Olympic title. He was banned for 21 months in 2009 for failing a drugs test which he blamed on his use of an off-the-shelf penile-enhancement product.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt argued that a strong anti-drugs message needs to be sent.

He said: “There should be no compromise when it comes to drugs in sport. We are working very, very hard to make sure that next year is a clean Olympics.

“Drugs has been a curse in sport for far too long and we are moving in the right direction.

“There needs to be no compromise and we need to send out a signal loud and clear that there is no compromise.”

At least 33 drugs cheats from the United States alone who would have missed out on the London 2012 Olympics will now be eligible after CAS declared the IOC ruling was “invalid and unenforceable”.