ROME, AUG. 27 -- Track and field's governing body took another step today in a crackdown on drug abuse by athletes, adopting a program of surprise tests and a range of penalties that allow for accidental use, but not for appeal.
At its annual meeting, the International Amateur Athletic Federation overwhelmingly approved the plans, which had been recommended by its medical commission.
It did not deal with probenecid, a legal drug usually prescribed for gout that has been found to hide the presence of illegal anabolic steroids. A report will be issued shortly on probenecid, an IAAF spokesman said.
One of the aims of the new IAAF package is to prevent athletes from using drugs during training, then stopping use in time to avoid testing at major meets.
Arne Ljungqvist of Sweden, an IAAF vice president and medical commission head, said the program would run random tests on athletes year-round, both at meets and in training camps. Surprise will be the key to the IAAF crackdown, he said.
The medical commission would send out its own officials to conduct the tests if necessary, mostly at big national track events, he said.
But Ljungqvist added that the IAAF was banking on national federations to conduct the bulk of the tests and was prepared to "chase the cheaters right into their training havens and catch them red-handed."
The IAAF's new system of penalties is based on a model code adopted by the International Olympic Committee earlier this year.
It establishes two levels of drug use -- one involving medication that might incidentally affect performance as it treats a legitimate ailment, the second for substances such as steroids that would be taken solely to gain an illegal edge.
For athletes who test positive for the first group of drugs, a first offense would bring a six-month suspension from competition, with more severe penalties for repeated violations.
If an athlete tested positive for drugs in the second, performance enhancing-only category, a first offense would bring a two-year suspension. A life ban would follow a second offense.
Under the IAAF's old rules, any drug violation meant a lifetime ban. However, the rules also allowed for a review after 18 months, even for those banned for steroid or other such blatant drug use. The new rules do not provide for reviews.