(File photo: VCG)
China will make doping a criminal offense from 2019, and athletes found to have broken the law will receive criminal punishments and jail terms.
China's sports ministry and top judicial authority are drafting a judicial interpretation on the application of criminal law in handling cases related to doping. It is a strong signal that China firmly says "no" to medals tainted by doping.
"We are nearing the end of our study and research into a judicial interpretation on anti-doping. It will be promulgated in 2019, probably in early 2019. Those guilty of doping will face criminal punishments," said Gou Zhongwen, director of China's General Administration of Sport at a national sports meeting on Friday.
Gou stated that anti-doping efforts are of paramount importance to sports in China.
It was added that the use of performance-enhancing drugs had been found in several tests of samples from students applying to sports schools.
China has long been taking a tough stance on doping. After the State Council launched the Anti-Doping Regulation in 2004, the country has been working to promote anti-doping legislation.
"It is our will to show the world we are really serious about anti-doping, and are taking concrete measures on fight against doping," Gou added.
Previously, there were no specific terms regarding anti-doping in China's criminal code. For this reason, the punishments for doping violations have been mostly confined to fines, bans and administrative penalties. But public calls for criminal punishment were widespread.
China's Supreme Court also vowed to fight hard against doping.
"We are studying and drawing up judicial interpretations on the application of law in handling criminal cases related to the use, manufacturing, sale and smuggling of performance-enhancing substances," Jiang Qibo, a judge sitting on China's Supreme People's Court, announced at the second edition of the WADA Global Education Conference in October that the process is in its crucial final stage.
With the announcement, China's highest judicial authority has thrown its support behind the country's wider anti-doping efforts.
"With China strengthening the rule of law and anti-doping being included in the process, we, as China's highest judicial organ, feel obliged to do our part in cracking down on doping," Jiang said.