The German government will introduce a draft bill on Wednesday seeking to make doping in sports a criminal offense, according to media reports. The new provisions under the draft bill reportedly seek to impose a prison term of up to three years and stiff fines on professional athletes found using performance-enhancing drugs.

“We are happy that a specific proposal is now on the table,” Alfons Hoermann, president of Germany's Olympic sports confederation, said, according to Reuters. “What the government is doing is a step in the right direction. We welcome this.”

The draft bill, which will be debated in parliament next year, includes, within its ambit, professional athletes, coaches and managers. Foreign athletes caught doping in Germany would also risk imprisonment under the proposed law. However, the law does not apply to amateur athletes, according to media reports. If the bill is passed, Germany will join the ranks of several other European nations like Italy, Spain and France, which have enacted similar laws, according to media reports.

“I fully support it if we take it seriously,” Oliver Bierhoff, team manager of Germany's national football team, reportedly said. “It is important for an athlete to know that they have a responsibility and risk going to jail if they dope…only with such drastic measures can we achieve having a clean sport.”

In recent years, a number of prominent German athletes, including cyclist Jan Ullrich and biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

The introduction of the new anti-doping bill would come just six months after the German Football Association, after a comprehensive study on the use of banned substances, announced plans to introduce match-day blood tests for players, according to media reports.