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Chambers to learn fate next week

9 July 2008

Sprinter Dwain Chambers will find out next week if he will be allowed to run for Britain at the Beijing Olympics.

Chambers launched an appeal against the British Olympic Association's ban on him competing in any future Games.

Chambers launched an appeal against the British Olympic Association's ban on him competing in any future Games.

If successful, he will be permitted to compete in Beijing provided he comes through this weekend's Olympic trials.

The 100m runner, 30, is challenging the BOA's by-law which bans athletes who have failed drug tests from the Olympics unless there are mitigating circumstances.

"Basically, both sides have got what they wanted," reported BBC 5 Live Olympics correspondent Gordon Farquhar.

"The BOA gets a full hearing into the validity of their by-law that states athletes found to have taken drugs cannot compete at future Olympic Games, and Chambers and his team have the chance to argue a case for him going to Beijing.

"Chambers's argument is that the by-law is an unreasonable restraint of trade and that it effectively punishes him twice for the same offence. The BOA will argue that, yes, it is a restraint of trade, but it is not unreasonable."

Chambers will now hope to finish first or second in the Birmingham trials, which start on Friday, and Farquhar added: "If he wins the appeal and impresses in the trials, Britain absolutely will have to take him. Those are the rules of the game."

The BOA is committed to naming its team for Beijing before 20 July and the sprinter himself, speaking outside the court following the hearing, said: "This morning was a bit tough for me but I guess I'm getting used to it.

"The process is hard but I'm confident about what I'm doing and that is making sure I cross the line first when I run. The rest is up to my lawyers."

BOA chairman Lord Moynihan added: "We will continue at that hearing (next year) to vigorously defend the by-law and bring the witnesses we want to bring and produce the cross-examination that is needed to defend that by-law.

"So, the principle outcome of today is one that we warmly welcome."

British Olympic legends Dame Kelly Holmes and Sir Steve Redgrave have both backed the BOA's stance.

But the BOA rule - in place for 16 years - is at odds with the position of track and field governing body the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which says athletes found guilty of doping can return to all competitions once they have served their bans.

There have been successful appeals against the lifetime ban - the last being 400m world champion Christine Ohuruogu's - but nobody has challenged the actual legality of the rule in the courts.

And former World Anti-Doping Agency president Dick Pound told BBC Sport the BOA's stance was unlikely to stand up to a legal challenge.

The BOA said on 3 July: "In the interests of the British Olympic Movement and the athletes who aspire to line up at an Olympic Games and our youngsters looking for Olympic glory in London, the BOA confirms that it will vigorously and unequivocally defend its lifetime ban on drug cheats who have brought themselves and their sports into disrepute."

Lord Sebastian Coe, who won Olympic gold for Britain in the 1500m in 1980 and 1984 and is chairman of the London 2012 organising committee, is in total agreement with the BOA.

Coe told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I am clear cut on the Chambers case - I don't think there is room for drugs cheats in sport.

"I do not think there is any lack of clarity about what the rules are - if you do that and you get caught, you get kicked out of the sport.

"I would rather Dwain wasn't doing this, I don't think there is a great deal of principle about it.

"Our responsibility as a federation is to protect the 99% of athletes who choose to do it the right way and for the right reasons. The good athletes and the young athletes and the novice athletes that are clean need protection."

Anticipating Chambers' actions, the British Athletes' Commission (BAC) asked athletes to sign a petition opposing the by-law's removal.

Among the hundred-plus signatories was five-time Olympic rowing gold medallist Redgrave, who said: "Every athlete that competes for Britain knows the rules.

"If an athlete takes the risk of cheating they have to accept the penalties that go with this."

BAC boss Peter Gardner told BBC Sport: "The petition carries weight because it has support from many athletes."

Chambers has refused to be swayed by the petition and his solicitor Nick Collins insists the views of the public should be heard.

"The petition speaks volumes for the names that are not on it as much as for the names that are on it," said the solicitor.

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