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UK players want lighter penalties for recreational drugs

Test tubes are pictures at the Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analysis in Epalinges near Lausanne July 15, 2008. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud
Test tubes are pictures at the Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analysis in Epalinges near Lausanne July 15, 2008. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud

LONDON (Reuters) - A union representing British sportsmen and women has launched legal action in Switzerland to try to ensure more sympathetic treatment for athletes caught using recreational drugs.

The Professional Players Federation (PPF), which has more than 15,000 members across soccer, golf, rugby union and cricket, is challenging moves by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to punish offenders in the same way, irrespective of whether they had used performance-enhancing or recreational drugs.

The PPF said the focus should be on trying to help sports stars who take drugs like cocaine and cannabis.

"Sport and WADA has a ‘duty of care' to provide appropriate support and treatment rather than just ruin players lives and careers with draconian two year bans that prevent athletes even training," PPF General Secretary Simon Taylor said in a statement.

The PPF noted that a clause allowing for lesser penalties and a focus on rehabilitation for recreational drug abuse had been dropped from the latest version of the new WADA anti-doping code.

Its lawyers have asked the Swiss courts to review the code before it can be approved at a conference in Johannesburg next week. The WADA executive committee falls under the jurisdiction of Swiss law.

WADA's main media spokesman, who is based in the Canadian city of Montreal, was not available for comment.

(Writing by Keith Weir, 44 20 7542 8022; editing by Justin Palmer)

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