Athletics: Coach's charges will not affect Chambers case

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The Independent Online

Dwain Chambers' disciplinary hearing into his positive drugs test, confirmed yesterday as being due to start next Thursday, will not be influenced by this week's indictment of his former coach, Remi Korchemny, on charges of distributing performance-enhancing drugs.

The news the 71-year-old Ukrainian - who was due to appear before a US grand jury in San Francisco last night - is facing a possible jail sentence would appear to have an impact on Chambers' case, but a spokesperson for UK Athletics said yesterday it would have "no effect" on the hearing, which could stretch to 20 February.

"The Dwain Chambers case is being looked at on its own facts," the spokesperson said. "And given the strict liability rules, the US case is not relevant to what the disciplinary committee has to decide." It seems UK Athletics, who will be represented by David Pannick QC, who has experience in this area, will lean strongly on the strict liability ruling which makesathletes responsible for any substances in their system. The hearing is expected to be very technical, throwing up information of interest to scientists on either side of the Atlantic.

Chambers tested positive for the 'designer' steroid THG on 1 August last year, and was suspended on 7 November pending the hearing. Korchemny is one of four men, including Victor Conte, the president of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative which is at the centre of the grand jury's investigation, facing charges including misbranding drugs with intent to defraud and money laundering.

The three-person disciplinary panel, appointed by UKA from a pool of independent experts, will be chaired by Charles Flint QC, who will be assisted by a scientific expert and a person closely associated with British athletics who is not employed by UKA.

In the normal course of events, the panel takes a couple of days to let UKA know the outcome of its report, but in this case, the media pressure to make an earlier revelation of the result of what is one of the highest profile doping cases in British athletics history will be extreme.

Kelly Holmes encountered a setback on Thursday when she lost to Alesya Turova, of Belarus, who ran the world's fastest time this year of 4min 04.42sec, over 1500 metres at the Stockholm indoor meeting. Holmes, one of the favourites for a title at next month's World Indoor Championships in Budapest, recorded her second fastest indoor 1500m time ever, 4:04.83.