In the BBC Olympic blog Adrian Warner revealed on Friday that key figures in Athens “think Dwain Chambers has a good chance of winning his drugs appeal against the British Olympic Association and making it to the Beijing Games”.
Drugs is an issue that has come to overshadow track and field athletics (amongst other sports of course), and shows little sign of disappearing. On either side of the Atlantic there are high profile stories in the news at the moment; while in the US Antonio Pettigrew (gold medalist in men’s 4x400m in Sydney) has just admitted to using performance-enahncing drugs (let’s call them PEDs), in the UK Dwain Chambers’ quest to compete in Beijing is controversial news.
The situations, for those who don’t know:
- Having completed at the highest level for many years, and won World Championship medals, in 2003 Chambers tested positive for the anabolic steroid THG
- As punishment Chambers was banned for 2 years by UK Athletics, banned from representing Great Britain at the Olympics, and stripped of all medals won since 2002 (whilst using PEDs)
- Having served the two year ban (and in the mean time tried his hand at American Football and Rugby League) Chambers is now competing again, and hopes to contest his life-time Olympic ban
Last week Chambers ran 100m in 10.26 at a competition in Greece, and thus qualified to compete at the British Olympic trials in Birmingham on 11 July. Should he run the qualifying time of 10.25 (distinctly likely judging by his speed in Greece) the only thing standing between Chambers and Beijing is the UK Athletics ban, which he plans to challenge in London’s High Court.
If Adrian Warner is to be believed there is a good chance that Chambers will be successful.
This situation has polarised opinion, with pretty much every British athlete (past or present) asked, backing the ban and emphasising the importance of a zero-tolerance approach to PEDs. On the other hand (according to Warner) even”the former head of the World Anti-doping Agency (Wada) Dick Pound has often said that it’s hard to legally justify punishing an athlete for the same offence twice.”
Bob does have sympathy for Chambers, who has clearly been punished greatly for his mistake, and now believes that he could win an Olympic medal (though he might struggle to keep up with Usain Bolt). For any athlete, the frustration of not being able to prove themselves on the Olympic stage must be enormous – just look at what Oscar Pistorius has been going through. And his efforts to warn people away from making his mistakes should be applauded.
However, as the Olympics approach it looks only too likely that there may be more stories of athletes on PEDs beating athletes who have resisted the temptation to cheat. Will the presence of athletes like Chambers muddy these waters further…?