London 2012: Chambers set to return to sprint relay training
Dwain Chambers expected to make second Olympic appearance - 12 years after finishing 4th in Sydney 100m final - at London 2012
Dwain Chambers is expected to return to training with the British sprint relay team should his lifetime Olympic ban be overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
British Olympic Association officials have privately conceded they have lost their legal battle to maintain their hardline stance against convicted drugs cheats, which was challenged by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Chambers, who was banned for two years between 2003 and 2005, hasn’t competed in 4x100m competitions since winning gold at the European Championships in Gothenburg six years ago – after which team-mate Darren Campbell refused to appear on the podium with him, claiming it was “inappropriate”.
Since then Chambers, 34, has worked hard to become a popular member of the squad, with likely team-mates, such as Christian Malcolm, strong advocates.
And UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee will be delighted to welcome back his top sprinter onto the team, after dropped batons ended their hopes – to his public fury – at the 2010 European and 2011 World Championships.
Officially Chambers is waiting until CAS make their decision public – expected to be early next week – but Team GB officials are resigned to being told he cannot be excluded, although he must first run the UK Athletics qualifying standard and finish in the top two at the Aviva Olympic trials.
David Millar, the cyclist who will also benefit from the CAS decision, has said he will not put himself forward for selection as he doesn’t want to be the ‘black sheep’ of the team.
Although he was considered integral of Mark Cavendish’s victory at last year’s road race World Championships and could challenge fellow Brit Bradley Wiggins and defending champion Fabian Cancellara in the time trial.
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 BOA chairman Colin 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.
“We continue to believe that it is important to defend our selection policy and the right of every national Olympic committee to determine their own eligibility standards for selection to their Olympic teams,” said a British Olympic Association spokesman.
“It is also important to make certain the voice of British athletes is clearly heard and their commitment to clean competition clearly understood.”
© Sportsbeat 2012