January 02, 2015

Beginning this year, athletes in Olympic sports who work with trainers, coaches or agents who have been banned for doping will be in jeopardy of receiving a ban, as well.

The most noteworthy of the new rules in the World Anti-Doping Agency's 2015 code is a prohibition from working with people who have been sanctioned themselves. Among those currently banned is Lance Armstrong's one-time trainer, Michele Ferrari. Since he was banned, Ferrari has been photographed meeting with members of other cycling teams.

Until the new code went into effect, there was no specific penalty for an athlete who dealt with banned coaches or trainers. Beginning this year, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency plans to give athletes a warning if they're dealing with a banned person. After that, the athlete could be sanctioned.

''These important changes advance the policy to most effectively protect clean athletes rights, health and fair competition,'' USADA CEO Travis Tygart said. ''Now, the challenge is to ensure all countries and sports are fully implementing this gold-standard policy to ensure the real winners win.''

In Italy, where doping is a crime, sports officials are urging law enforcement to get more involved in preventing Ferrari from associating with riders.

Last month, investigators sent a file to Italy's Olympic committee detailing allegations of Ferrari's continued influence on cyclists.

In 2006, Ferrari was cleared of criminal charges of distributing banned products to athletes. But he remains barred for life by the Italian Cycling Federation and was also banned for life by USADA in 2012.

Another key rules change taking effect this year increases the possible penalty for a first-time doping violation from two to four years. That change came after athletes pushed for the increased penalty for intentional cheaters.

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