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Last outing for sprinter

16 August 2006
www.gazettelive.co.uk

Darren Campbell has confirmed he will "definitely be retiring in the next week" as he reiterated he has no regrets about his anti-drugs stance at the European Championships where he refused to share in Great Britain's 4x100metres relay celebrations.

The 32-year-old is Britain's most successful sprinter behind his coach Linford Christie with medals at Olympic, world, Commonwealth and European level.

However, he is set to make his final bow following appearances at the Celtic Cup in Falkirk and the Norwich Union International in Birmingham at the weekend.

Campbell said: "I've got one more competition in Falkirk and I'm not sure if I'll be taking place in the Norwich Union Games in Birmingham. But pretty much if I do that's it.

"I believe I've given my all for my country. I feel extremely proud and privileged to have been able to wear the British vest with pride. But you know, in life everything comes to an end so I'll definitely be retiring in the next week."

Following the relay squad's victory on Sunday, Campbell did not join his team-mates Dwain Chambers, Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francis on the lap of honour.

Instead, he did a television interview which he now acknowledges was incoherent to viewers and media alike.

Initially it was thought the former Olympic 200m runner-up was protesting about Chambers being reinstated into the side on his return to championship racing after a two-year drugs suspension.

But Campbell insisted he fully supported the return of Chambers to the British side.

The Sale Harrier admitted he should have planned it better and conveyed the message he was attacking unscrupulous drug pedlars rather than his team-mate.

Campbell, however, is eager Chambers names and shames the suppliers who brought about his downfall. "He's been accepted back into the fold by everyone and still has the chance to do it," said Campbell, who is in Beijing for the IAAF World Junior Championships.

The athlete insists he is not retiring because of drugs but is satisfied with his stance.

"I'm here supporting the juniors who are going to compete at the World Junior Championships, so the future's bright."

"I think I've made now a big-enough statement, that you know if that gets cleaned up, then the sport is safe. I just don't want people to think that our sport is not safe, because I've been doing it since I was eight years old."

Campbell has an ambassador's role in China, funded by Norwich Union's £50m to support UK Athletics in the build-up to the 2012 London Olympic Games, and is already involved in grassroots development.

Last year he organised 60m street races in Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool and London, which saw almost 2000 youngsters take part. The venture was one of the reasons which fuelled Campbell's protest in Gothenburg.

Campbell said: "As a UKA ambassador and working in the sport at grassroots level, these boys and girls are important to me. I don't want to see them caught up in it."

Campbell added: "Everyone thought I was singling out Dwain on Sunday - it may have seemed that way, but I wasn't. I didn't want to spurn Dwain - I'm glad he's back."

"He's got the evidence from what happened to him in the United States of what's going on in our sport and he was big enough to say that."

"Looking back I'd like to apologise to everyone for not doing the lap of honour. But otherwise I believe what I did was right."



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