Dwain Chambers set for Olympic Games return as BOA loses court case

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Dwain Chambers set for Olympic Games return as BOA loses court case” was written by Andy Bull, for The Guardian on Sunday 29th April 2012 18.15 UTC

The sprinter Dwain Chambers and the cyclist David Millar will both be eligible to compete at the London Olympic Games. The court of arbitration for sport has reached a verdict on the dispute between the British Olympic Association and the World Anti-Doping Agency and, as was widely expected, the ruling has not gone the BOA’s way. In fact it is understood the CAS ruling is unequivocally in favour of Wada. The news leaked out on Sunday, but will not be confirmed until 3pm on Monday.

While Chambers and Millar can now prepare to try to win Olympic selection at their trials in June and July, the next step for the BOA will be to remove the bylaw at a full board meeting. Not that it is willing to let the matter slide altogether. Judging by its previous comments, the BOA is likely to argue that its strong moral line has been defeated on a legal technicality. Wada would dispute that. Both parties are due to go public with their views on the ruling on Monday afternoon.

The fractious dispute between the two organisations will continue. Wada is seeking submissions for its ongoing code review, which will be implemented in 2013. It is believed that the BOA will now concentrate on its proposal, made earlier this month, for that review to implement a minimum and mandatory four-year ban for a first serious doping offence, including missing one Olympic Games.

The Wada code, which came into force in 2004, harmonised rules to bring in a maximum ban of two years for athletes who test positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

The BOA has also suggested that the code review should allow national Olympic committees have the right to impose tougher sanctions should they choose to do so. It is reckoned likely that Wada will agree to change the new code to increase the length of a ban for a serious offence, but will stop short of allowing different Olympic committees to have different sanctions. Either way, it will be too late for London 2012.

For Chambers and Miller the CAS ruling means their long wait for a shot at redemption on sport’s biggest stage is all but over. Both men had completed two-year bans after committing doping offences, but both were ineligible for Olympic selection because of the BOA bylaw, which meant that any athlete who has been given a doping ban of six months or more would not be selected for Team GB.

Wada ruled that that bylaw was noncompliant with its global code, of which the BOA is a signatory. The BOA stood its ground. It had argued to CAS that it should be free to select who ever it chooses for the team, insisting that the bylaw was a matter of eligibility rather than a sanction. Wada argued that the BOA bylaw, unique in world sport, amounted to an “additional sanction” and was no longer tenable in the wake of the CAS ruling against the International Olympic Committee last October: CAS is believed to have concurred with Wada’s argument, following the precedent set when it ruled against the IOC’s “rule 45”, which banned LaShawn Merritt and other athletes who had failed dope tests for at least one Olympic Games on top of their initial ban.

Both the UK Athletics head coach, Charles van Commenee, and British cycling’s performance director, Dave Brailsford, have said that they will be willing to pick Chambers and Millar if the CAS ruling allowed them to and their performances merited selection. Chambers won bronze at the world indoor championships in Istanbul earlier this year and he is likely to be a key member of the British 4x100m relay team. Mark Cavendish, who won the World Road Cycling Championships in 2011, says Millar would make a “massive difference” to GB’s team for the Olympic road race. The shotputter Carl Myerscough, who tested positive in 1999, could also benefit from the decision.

The decision will not be uniformly popular with other athletes on Team GB. Opinion is split as to whether or not Chambers and Millar deserve a second chance. “Britain has tougher standards on drugs than the rest of the world which I don’t think are tough enough anyway. Other nations should get in line with us,” said the world 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene. The sprinter Christian Malcolm, on the other hand, has argued that: “Dwain has a good heart but went through a stupid period in his life where he was naive. There should be redemption and I like to see drug cheats come back because I like to see what they can do without the drugs.”

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