The French government, in an effort to crack down on cyclists at the 2008 Tour de France who use performance-enhancing drugs, passed a new law last month that provides severe criminal penalties for the personal use and/or possession of doping products like anabolic steroids. Performance enhancing drugs like anabolic steroids, EPO and human growth hormone are considered “ ” under the French public health code (“ ,” July 18).
A French law took effect this month that makes anyone who produces, transports, acquires or possesses doping products liable for up to five years in prison and a $119,000 fine.
This marks the first time athletes who take drugs can be liable in the justice system. Previously, possession of a doping product was not illegal.
Some critics said the law was too tough, and athletes should be punished with sports sanctions, not legal sanctions.
Three riders in the 2008 Tour de France have had positive drug test results – all apparently from EPO and/or related substances. , , and have all been arrested by French police and have had their hotel rooms searched as the result of positive doping tests.
In the case of Riccardo Ricco, no performance-enhancing drugs were found in his hotel room or in his possession. Police only found “medical equipment.” But Ricco was nonetheless charged with using a “poisonous substance.” Since no “doping products” were discovered (unless medical equipment like syringes and/or a positive doping result are considered evidence of “doping products”), Ricco may avoid being prosecuted under the draconian new personal possession laws in France.