Women's world record holder Paula Radcliffe has backed stricter anti-doping penalties introduced by the World Marathon Majors members. Race organisers from the Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York races have agreed to revise their elite athlete contracts so that they all have the right to suspend payment, demand repayment of prize money and bonus payments should an athlete be found in violation of anti-doping regulations.
The news comes in the wake of the admission by cyclist Lance Armstrong's that he took performance enhancing drugs for all seven of his Tour de France victories, with sponsors and race organisers uncertain that they can reclaim financial rewards given to the disgraced American.
"This is a great initiative and a very positive and strong move by the World Marathon Majors, which is once again leading the field by example," said Paula Radcliffe, past winner of the London, Chicago and New York City marathons.
"I would love to see all major events follow its lead. The cheats need to understand that they are not welcome in our sport and will be caught and made to pay. This is a step forward in increasing the deterrent and showing athletes and managers that cheating won't be tolerated. Having to pay back all money won while cheating is common sense and a logical element that has been missing for a long time. It is clear that any monies won while cheating are tantamount to fraud and should be returned."
World Marathon Majors has also supported increasing the number and frequency of out-of-competition drug tests in Ethiopia and Kenya. The events aim to ensure the integrity of the athletes competing in their races, with the majority of top male and female competitors hailing from these two countries.
Additionally, World Marathon Majors has previously agreed that any athlete found guilty of a doping offence will not be invited back to its races.