London 2012: Dwain Chambers eligible for Olympics after ruling
Likes of Dwain Chambers and David Millar can try to qualify for Team GB after Cas overturns BOA's lifetime drugs cheat ban
British Olympic Association officials will attempt to draw a line under their controversial lifetime ban for drugs cheats after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled it illegal.
Chairman Colin Moynihan has invested much capital in defending the right of national Olympic committee’s to decide who can and can’t represent them at the Olympic Games.
But he will now be forced to welcome convicted drugs cheats, such as sprinter Dwain Chambers, cyclist David Millar and athlete Carl Myerscough, into the 550-strong Team GB, should they qualify or be selected in the coming weeks.
Moynihan received the written decision from Cas this weekend and, as widely predicted and reported, it ruled that BOA’s life ban does not comply with the World Anti-Doping Agency code, to which his organisation is a signatory.
Cas will formally announce the verdict on their website at 1500BST on Monday.
“The British Olympic Association can confirm that today, it has received from the Court of Arbitration for Sport the written decision in the arbitration between the BOA and the World Anti-Doping Association,” read a statement.
“As the decision is to be announced first by Cas, and out of respect for Cas and the Arbitration Panel, the BOA will be offering no comment today.”
The three-strong panel claimed the ban amounted to an ilegal additional sanction – with Chambers initially banned for two years in 2003 and Millar suspended for the same time after admitting using the blood-booster EPO in 2004.
The loss of the case is a major to Moynihan, who has picked and lost some high profile fights in the last 12 months.
Last year he took on both the International Olympic Committee and London 2012 organisers Locog in a row over Games profits and was forced to concede ground in the final settlement.
This time he has clashed with Wada and its chairman John Fahey, who accused Moynihan of being ‘misinformed and inaccurate’ after a sharp exchange of words last year.
BOA officials continue to claim their lifetime ban – introduced by former chairman Sir Arthur Gold in the early 1990s – has the overwhelming support of athletes, with Sir Steve Redgrave and Daley Thompson its most vocal cheerleaders.
But an increasing number of current stars have expressed their doubts about its fairness – including perhaps sport’s most outspoken anti-drugs campaigner Paula Radcliffe.
After last month’s hearing Moynihan claimed to be “cautiously optimistic” that a high-powered legal team, lead by QC Lord David Pannick, had made a strong argument for maintaining the right to select whatever team they liked.
But, in truth, the precedent was set last year when Cas ruled to repeal the International Olympic Committee’s so-called Osaka rule.
That prevented athletes who had been banned for longer than six months from competing at the next Olympics but Cas said that it did not comply with the binding Wada code, effectively putting the BOA’s more hardline stance under severe pressure.
And the panel that ruled against the IOC’s rule – Canadian Richard McLaren, Switzerland’s Michele Bernasconi and American David Rivkin – also sat in judgement on the BOA’s case in London last month.
Moynihan will now attempt to brush the contentious issue under the carpet as focus switches to the London Olympics and has already said he would personally welcome the likes of Chambers and Millar onto the team should the case be lost.
However, he is determined to become a leading voice for those who want the way sports doping policy is administered to be changed, a debate expected to dominate the build-up to the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Last month the BOA submitted a series of proposals for reforming anti-doping regulations – and called for mandatory four-year bans for all convicted drugs cheats.
© Sportsbeat 2012