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Chambers may return from ban to race at Gateshead

19 May 2006
www.timesonline.co.uk


By David Powell

Dwain Chambers may be cleared to make his comeback from a drugs ban in time for the Norwich Union British Grand Prix 100 metres in Gateshead on June 11, a race featuring Justin Gatlin and Asafa Powell, the joint world record-holders. Chambers has served a two-year suspension but cannot compete until he has arranged to repay dishonestly earned prize-money.

Chambers, Great Britain’s European 100 metres champion, is said by the IAAF to owe “several hundred thousand dollars” but the athlete, with no income from the sport since 2003 and hit hard by legal expenses, is believed to be short of the sum needed. How much the IAAF insists on him returning, and how soon, is the issue.

The IAAF is close to finalising its requirement. In the meantime, if the wheels turn quickly enough, Chambers could appear at Gateshead. First, though, he would need to find a race to post a time showing that he is worth a place.

“I do not believe that a formal approach has been made, although discussions have taken place,” Jon Ridgeon, the director of athletics for Fast Track, which is promoting the meeting on behalf of UK Athletics, said. “Our view, and the view of UK Athletics, is that Dwain would have to show form before the event. Provided he can do that, I would not be surprised if he runs in Gateshead.”

If he wants to pay back some of his moral debt to the sport, it would be better if Chambers did not appear. His inclusion would intrude on what should otherwise be a welcome few days for sprinting in the international spotlight, dominated by the build-up towards a clash between two of the finest ambassadors for sprinting in the professional era.

Such gentlemen are Gatlin and Powell that it is even argued, in the editorial of this week’s Athletics Weekly, that they are too nice and need more edge to their rivalry to stir interest. Powell, from Jamaica, is the Commonwealth champion and Gatlin, from the United States, is the Olympic and world champion.

Chambers, whose original ban ended in September, had hoped to return during the indoor season but the prizemoney issue has prolonged his absence. Unwittingly, he substantially increased the sum he would need to pay back by admitting last December that he had been taking drugs long before he tested positive in August 2003.



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