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No Beijing for British sprinter Chambers

18 July 2008
www.wcsn.com

Sprinter Dwain Chambers cannot take part in the Beijing Olympics next month after failing to gain an injunction against a British Olympic Association (BOA) ban in the High Court on Friday.

The 30-year-old was challenging a BOA by-law, which states that any athlete found guilty of using drugs is barred from competing for Britain in any sport at the Olympics.

Chambers, who won the 100 meters at the British Olympic trials last weekend in 10.0 seconds, completed a two-year doping ban in 2006 after he had tested positive for the designer steroid THG in 2003.

The London-based sprinter's legal team had argued that the BOA ban represented a restraint of trade.

However, judge Colin MacKay said if the case had gone to a fully-contested hearing he was not satisfied that Chambers had a reasonable prospect of proving his case.

He said to have allowed the challenge meant "the harmony and management of the British team would have been upset."

BOA chairman Colin Moynihan said the verdict sent a strong message to other athletes.

"It's a matter of regret that Dwain Chambers, an athlete of such undoubted talent, should by his own actions have put himself out of the running to shine on the Olympic stage in Beijing," Moynihan told reporters outside court.

"The BOA will continue to send a powerful message that nobody found guilty of serious drug-cheating offences should have the honor of wearing G.B. vests at the Olympic games."

Chambers made no comment after the hearing despite being surrounded by a throng of reporters and cameramen outside the court before escaping down a narrow side street.

With the International Olympic Committee deadline for naming team members coming up this weekend, Chambers is highly unlikely to launch an appeal against the decision.

U.K. Athletics had named only Simeon Williamson, beaten by Chambers at the trials, for the 100 meters in Beijing. Sprinter Craig Pickering is now expected to be added to the team.

"We now consider the issue closed and look forward to Beijing and must all turn our focus to our final preparations with the athletes who will represent Great Britain," UK Athletics said in a statement.

The Chambers case has dominated British athletics this year and split opinions throughout the sport.

He was controversially selected for the world indoor championships in Spain, against the wishes of U.K. Athletics, and won a silver medal.

The BOA's stance has gained support from many leading names in the sport, including former British gold medalist Sebastian Coe, now vice president of the governing IAAF and chairman of the 2012 London games, and rowing great Steve Redgrave.

After serving his ban, Chambers briefly returned to athletics in 2006 and was a member of Britain's gold medal-winning 4x100-meter relay team at the European Championships that year.

Chambers was stripped of the gold he won at the European championships in 2002 and was asked to return a substantial amount of prize money he had earned while taking drugs.

He made an unsuccessful attempt to forge a career in American football and earlier this year had a trial with rugby league team Castleford.



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