LONDON, (Reuters) – Sprinter Dwain Chambers and cyclist David Millar were cleared to compete in this year’s London Olympics after the British Olympic Association’s (BOA) lifetime Games ban on drug cheats was declared invalid by sport’s highest court yesterday.
BOA chairman Colin Moynihan said the ruling was a “hollow victory” for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) but his organisation came under fire from both WADA and Chambers’ agent who accused the BOA of “colonial arrogance”.
The BOA had asked the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland to mediate after WADA ruled the life ban did not comply with its global doping code which provides for a maximum two-year suspension for a first offence.
“The CAS Panel has ruled that the BOA bye-law related to the selection of British athletes for the Olympic Games was not in compliance with the World Anti-doping Code,” CAS said in a statement on its website (www.tas-cas.org).
“Such decision confirms the jurisprudence established last year in the case between the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).”
Last year, American 400 metres runner LaShawn Merritt successfully challenged the IOC over his lifetime ban when CAS effectively decided it represented a double punishment.
The BOA’s Moynihan vowed to keep fighting for stricter sanctions in future.
“We have already submitted a set of recommendations to WADA as part of the ongoing World Anti-Doping Code review process,” he told a news conference.
“We will be actively involved in that process and will be vocal in it, principally calling for tougher and more realistic sanctions for serious first time doping offences; A minimum of four years including one Games.”
WADA had harsh words for the BOA.
The organisation’s director general Dave Howman said the BOA should have fallen in line after CAS overturned the IOC’s life ban rule, and not “wasted money and time” going to CAS at considerable expense for both parties.
“We are talking about, I assume, hundreds of thousands of pounds at a time when the world economy is such. We couldn’t really afford that sort of money. We had to because we had to defend the position of the board,” Howman told Reuters.
“The code is there because the world wanted everybody to have the same set of rules. Now the BOA is aware that their rule is an extra sanction and not in line, they have got the opportunity of changing their rules and working together.”
President John Fahey said WADA regretted the “many hysterical and inaccurate public statements from the BOA in the course of challenging the WADA decision”.
Britain’s former world indoor 60 metres champion Chambers was banned for two years after testing positive for the designer steroid THG. Compatriot Millar was also banned for two years after admitting taking the blood booster EPO.
Chambers, 34, made a comeback to athletics following his doping ban in 2003, and won 60 metres gold at the European and world indoor championships in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
He is, however, still a pariah at many top meetings across Europe.
Chambers’ agent, Siza Agha, said the BOA’s actions were a “crude and defiant display” fuelled by “misguided statements”.
“In my view as hosts for the 2012 Olympics, this delicate and emotive issue required international diplomacy, foresight and responsibility,” Agha, who is also a barrister, said in a statement.
“What we have received has been a crude and defiant display fuelled by misguided statements such as ‘We have standards and the rest of the world doesn’t’.
“It has in my view been an exposure of colonial arrogance that even the most extreme and blinkered should have realised could only serve to marginalise British opinion on the international stage.”
The prospect of Chambers, who must still qualify for a place in the team, competing in a British vest at the Olympic stadium has divided opinion.
Track rivals such as American Justin Gatlin, himself a former doper now competing again after serving a ban, and Jamaica’s world record holder Asafa Powell, said they would welcome lining up against him in Stratford.
Last month London Games chairman Sebastian Coe said Chambers should not be allowed to compete.
The London Olympics start on July 27.