New International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach called a change from two- to four-year doping bans “a very important step forward” on Wednesday.
Bach also said the Sochi Olympics will be the most drug-tested Winter Games in history.
He was speaking at the World Conference on Doping in Sport in Johannesburg.
Later this week, the World Anti-Doping Agency is expected to double the current serious doping violation ban from two years to four years. The new WADA code will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.
Bach approves of four-year bans, partly because it means an athlete would be assured of missing an Olympics. That was not assured under the two-year ban.
“It adds to the deterring factor of the sanction because until now there was something in between, they could still come back at the next edition of the Games,” Bach said. “And some may even have calculated with this comeback and therefore it is a very important step forward.”
Bach said he once supported lifetime bans for a first offense, a move that has been ruled out because of human rights issues. Lawyers advised Bach that lifetime bans for first offenses wouldn’t be possible.
“It is a pity but you have to expect this,” Bach said.
For Sochi, the AP reported there will be 1,296 pre-competition drug tests and 2,453 total around the Games. There were 804 and 2,149 at the 2010 Olympics.
The IOC will spend “many millions” on drug testing during competition from Feb. 6-23.
“To be clear, to be very clear: These millions of dollars are not expenses,” Bach said, according to the AP. “They are an investment in the future of our sports.”