I’m torn by the following news … on the one hand, yes, it should be a pretty good way to help get rid of the cheaters once and for all; although, like McQuaid, life bans would be better.

On the other hand, as slipshod as many of the testing procedures and protocols have proven to be over the past several years, I would hate to see an innocent rider slapped with a 4-year ban, especially knowing the way that these things are handled in the United States by USADA.

UCI to introduce four-year ban in ’09

Following the positive A sample tests for CERA by Tour de France stars Stefan Schumacher and podium-finisher Bernhard Kohl, UCI President Pat McQuaid has confirmed that the UCI will double its maximum sanction for doping cases next season.

A four-year suspension could effectively end the career of positive riders and should act as a strong deterrent. McQuaid told Cyclingnews on Tuesday that he’d personally opt for life bans if possible, but that WADA rules had to be followed.

“I have said before that I would like to see them out of the sport for good. That is purely on a personal level,” he stated. “However, we are obliged to follow the world anti-doping code, and that is what the UCI will do. Currently the world anti-doping code gives a maximum two-year sanction in the case of a positive test. From the first of January there is a bit more flexibility in it, and we can go up to a four year ban in the cases of something regarded as willful cheating.

“In these cases [Kohl and Schumacher], considering that these guys were given the product and then went and took it for the Tour de France, it would be very much classified as willful cheating. Next year a rider in that position would face a four year ban.

Okay, yeah sure, the four-year ban is for “willful cheating” … but knowing Travis Tygart and his USADA cronies, the mere presence of any anomalies would be considered willful cheating. Miss a test because of poor signage and lack of chaperones at the finish line of a major event (like what happened to Sager a few years back)? Obviously, you’re avoiding the test because you cheated. Smack. Four years. Good-bye!