- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The president of European Athletics is calling for tougher penalties for drug cheats and will review records and the list of past award winners from the continent in response to a “seismic” doping crisis that is “rocking the very foundations” of the sport.

In a statement entitled “Integrity in Athletics” published Wednesday, Svein Arne Hansen said “a cultural revolution will be required for athletics to rebuild its reputation.”

Hansen said WADA’s four-year ban for serious doping offenses “is still not enough” and that European Athletics will explore the possibility of longer bans and an increase in the number of tests required of banned athletes.

“The penalty for a serious doping offense should make it highly unlikely a guilty athlete can return to an elite career, even if lifetime bans are not legally sustainable,” the statement said.

Hansen said the body will set up a special project team to look at “a new approach to records in Europe” because neither European Athletics nor the public can have full confidence in past results.

“Over the years, different approaches for addressing this question have been proposed,” the statement said, “but the issue is very complex and so far nothing has happened. It is clear that now the situation is different.”

European Athletics is also committed to adding the statement “I Run Clean” to athletes’ bibs at competitions, as happened at last month’s European Cross Country Championships. In addition, the body said it will invest in a new anti-doping education program for elite athletes and be a “strong voice within the IAAF to make sure it stays on the course” set by its president, Sebastian Coe.

Russia is currently banned from international track and field after a report commissioned by WADA alleged widespread doping and cover-ups in the country. Last week, two Russian officials and the son of former IAAF president Lamine Diack were banned for life for engaging in blackmail, bribery and extortion to cover up a Russian doping case.

Diack also is under criminal investigation in France over allegations he took payments for deferring sanctions against Russian drug cheats.

“Our policy will not be one of quick fixes,” Hansen said, “but, rather, we will take a deliberate and systematic approach. The credibility, trust and respect our sport requires will take time and great effort to rebuild.”

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