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Overwhelming support for revised anti-doping code: WADA

By Mark Gleeson

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The adoption of a revised World Anti-Doping Code received "overwhelming support" after intense discussions on Wednesday said WADA's president with the agency confident it will be ratified as planned on Friday.

"There was overwhelming support for the direction in which the code is heading," World Anti-Doping Agency chief John Fahey said after the first full day of the World Conference on Doping in Sport.

Tougher sanctions, more vigorous testing and an enhanced drive to catch drug cheats form the basis of some 2,000 changes to the code, set to be adopted at the end of the conference by some 1,000 delegates from government, civil bodies, sports associations and the International Olympic Committee.

It will be implemented from the start of 2015.

The draft code includes doubling the standard ban for serious doping offences and excluding offenders from the Olympic Games, although there was some objection to these plans from the speakers during Wednesday's deliberations.

"The overwhelming majority of athletes who made submissions left the impression they want a four-year, or more, ban for offenders. I can say there were only a few submissions that did not support tougher penalties and maybe some flexibility for those who unwittingly dope," said the WADA president.

"But I don't agree with a two-year ban," added Fahey, whose term ends next month.

WADA also said it was working with Jamaica on extensive improvements to their anti-doping policy in the wake of a reported breakdown in their testing procedures in recent years.

"We went to Jamaica at the invitation of the government to audit the process after media reports and we put an extensive report together for them," said WADA director general David Howman.

"We have met with the Jamaica sports minister (Natalie Neita Headley) and had a very positive response. We are now working with them to implement the recommendations. We are confident that Jamaica's issues will be resolved.'

Former world 100 meters record holder Asafa Powell, three-times Olympic gold medalist Veronica Campbell-Brown and Olympic relay gold medalist Sherone Simpson are among six Jamaican athletes who have tested positive for banned substances this year.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

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