Dwain Chambers could overturn his lifetime Olympic ban in the courts, according to Dick Pound, the former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
The Canadian lawyer believes the by-law imposed by the British Olympic Association, preventing any athlete found guilty of serious doping abuse from competing at the Games, would not stand up to legal challenge.
"As a matter of law, I think the BOA would be on pretty shaky ground," Pound told the BBC yesterday. "The BOA is a signatory to Wada's code – those are the rules that govern doping infractions – and the sanction for a first offence is a two-year suspension. Chambers has served his ban and I think, depending on your view of criminal justice, if you serve the penalty deemed appropriate, for whatever the offence was, you are entitled to be reintegrated into society."
Chambers, who has a serious chance of winning a 60 metres medal tomorrow at the World Indoor Championships in Valencia, has missed the 15 February deadline to lodge an appeal against his ban from the Beijing Olympics. But Pound added: "I've always felt it was fairly clear what the outcome [of a challenge] would be. If the BOA sought to deny me a place in the 2008 Olympic team on the basis solely of my earlier drugs offence, I would say that they don't have the power to do that."
A BOA spokesman said that the organisation would "vigorously defend" itself against any legal action by Chambers.
The president of the Spanish Athletics Federation, Jose Maria Odriozola, meanwhile, has voiced concern Chambers' involvement in the Championships could provoke disruption by British spectators. "We have received serious warnings that British fans are going to express their opposition to him being allowed to run," Odriozola said. But Graham Botley, who runs the British Athletics Supporters Club, said in Valencia yesterday that he had not heard of any such intention among British fans.