Having been forced to cut its ban from four to two years in 1997 to bring it in line with other leading sports and get worldwide governments on board, the International Association of Athletics Federations has been under increasing pressure to restore the stiffer penalty in the wake of a slew of high-profile doping cases.
On Thursday, two days before the start of the world championships in Moscow, it announced there would be a return to four-year bans.
"The new WADA (world anti-doping agency) Code, which will come into force on Jan 1, 2015, will reflect our firm commitment to have tougher penalties and the IAAF will return to four year sanctions for serious doping offences," the IAAF said in a statement following the second day of its Congress.
"The IAAF has an ethical obligation to the overwhelming majority of athletes and officials who believe in clean sport.
"As a leader in this fight the IAAF has built and delivers a programme that is well resourced, far reaching, sophisticated and increasingly able to detect and remove from the sport those who breach our anti-doping rules."
Athletics has recently been again hard-hit by a string of doping cases, ranging from high-profile athletes such as American Tyson Gay and Jamaican trio Asafa Powell, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Sherone Simpson to multiple positive tests in Turkey.
Some of the Turkish athletes were as young as 17 and the controversies have led to calls for federations to be punished for failing to control the situation.
Rocked by the latest developments, IAAF officials have continued to stress that they lead the way in the fight against doping and that the mass of positive tests are merely evidence of its efficiency.
"The IAAF's collection of the blood samples of nearly 2000 athletes in Daegu (in the 2011 world championships), as part of our commitment to the Athlete Biological Passport, was an historic achievement across all sports, and continues in Moscow," said officials, who added that the testing programme in Moscow would be the most comprehensive in the event's 30-year history.
Earlier on Thursday the Turkish National Olympic Committee issued a statement saying the country was committed to the fight against doping, despite more than 40 athletes being suspended in recent weeks.
"On the eve of the world championships it is important to reiterate that Turkey's aggressive fight against doping in sport, which we have intensified significantly since the start of 2013, will continue and accelerate regardless of the International Olympic Committee's decision on the host city of the 2020 Games on 7 September 2013," Turkish Olympic Committee president Ugur Erdener said in a statement on Istanbul's bid.
"But if Turkey is granted the honour of hosting the 2020 Games it will put our anti-doping programme under the full glare of the global media spotlight for the next decade. We welcome that.
"We abhor the fact that some of the recent cases have involved young people, although there is no evidence to suggest this was a widespread practice."
On Wednesday Paula Radcliffe, Britain's marathon world record holder and member of the IAAF athletes' council, said some Turkish coaches were guilty of effective child abuse for giving teenage athletes illegal substances.
"Some of those athletes are 16 or 17," she said. "This is steroids and I think there needs to be some sort of sanction imposed on that country and something done about protecting the young athletes in that country because I don't believe there's a whole lot of choice.
"Sometimes they are being abused in the same way as physical abuse or sexual abuse if they are being forced to engage in drug abuse. The entourage should be subject to sanctions, too."