Athletes using steroids could face double bansAccording to drug rules that are set to be agreed at the World Anti-Doping Conference in Madrid, athletes found guilty of heavy-duty steroid abuse will face bans of up to four years for a first offence instead of the existing two years.

The new punishment for the most serious of doping offences follows a scientific study that has revealed that performance-enhancing effect of anabolic steroids could last as long as four years.

Guilty athletes who co-operate fully with the anti-doping authorities will have the chance to get the punishment reduced by providing credible evidence of doping among other athletes or their support personnel.