Spain passes new anti-doping law

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Madrid • Spain passed a new anti-doping law on Thursday in an effort to clean up the country's tarnished image after the Operation Puerto case and boost Madrid's bid for the 2020 Olympics.

The new law approved by parliament includes the expansion of doping tests for athletes to night hours (11 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and costly fines for those who deal in doping substances. It also creates a new national anti-doping agency with greater autonomy and an additional focus on athletes' health.

Dealing in banned substances in Spain will lead to fines of up to $530 million. However, the law does not make doping a crime for athletes, just a sports violation subject to bans from competition.

Ana Munoz, who will stay on as the director of the newly named Sports Health Protection Agency, said the law would help Spain increase its "credibility" against banned performance-enhancing substances and practices.

"This is the end of an opening phase and an indispensable step to bring us in line with other countries," Munoz said. "It's news that will strengthen the Madrid 2020 candidacy and guarantee that all clean athletes can compete under equal conditions."