Chambers in legal race against time to make Olympics

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The Independent Online

Dwain Chambers, now in possession of an Olympic 100m qualifying time, has instructed his lawyers to launch a High Court action against his lifetime ban from the Games.

The 30-year-old sprinter, who went joint top of this year's British rankings on Saturday by recording a time of 10.06sec at a meeting in Biberach, Germany, will step up the legal challenge to the British Olympic Association's bylaw preventing any athlete guilty of a serious doping infringement from competing in future Games.

Chambers, banned for two years in 2003 following a positive test for the steroid THG, says he fully intends to compete in the Beijing Games in August. He has recorded a time inside the qualifying mark of 10.2sec, but it will be up to his legal team to remove the last, and biggest, obstacle, to his participation.

"All the papers are with the barrister already," his lawyer Nick Collins said this weekend. "He will be going through them early in the week, with the intention of serving them this week. We think we have a strong action, but that will, obviously, be for the judge to decide."

The lawyer added that he expected the case to be heard in the week leading up to the Olympic trials in Birmingham, which start on 11 July. The final selection deadline falls on 20 July.

Chambers will be represented in the High Court by Jonathan Crystal, a specialist sports lawyer, whose previous clients include Brian Lara, Frankie Dettori and Graeme Souness.

Meanwhile, Colin Moynihan, chairman of the BOA, has promised that "money will be no object" when it comes to keeping Chambers out of the team, despite the Association making record losses of £1.3m last year.

While there is a clear feeling within the BOA that it holds the moral highground, influential figures such as Dick Pound, the Canadian lawyer who was formerly president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, have cast doubt on the legal security of the 2003 decision to ban Chambers.

Should the sprinter's legal fight prove successful, it would open the way for other British sportsmen banned under the same rule, such as shot putter Carl Myerscough and cyclist David Millar, to revive their own Olympic aspirations.

Chambers won a silver medal at the World Indoor Championships three months ago, but if he gets to Beijing he will be a rank outsider in the race for a medal.

The world record holder, Usain Bolt, earned his right to an Olympic 100m place on Saturday with victory in the Jamaican trials over Asafa Powell in 9.85sec – 0.13sec slower than his best mark, but still 0.02sec faster than Chambers has ever run.

Bolt, whose original Olympic target was the 200m, has yet to confirm whether he will even contest the short sprint in Beijing. His coach, Glen Mills, said after his victory that they would wait until August before deciding on whether to double up in the 100m and 200m.

"We still have to assess how he does in the 200m," said Mills. "The problem is that when we started the season, our plan was to run the 200m only. We have to be careful how we see-saw with that plan. So we are taking it very seriously. We are not going to be rushed into making a firm decision."

Mills confirmed that Bolt, who ran 9.72sec to break the world record in New York last month, would run the distance only once more before the Olympics begin – and he appeared to rule out doing it at the Crystal Palace grand prix in July. "When we go to Europe, we are going to run the 200m in London and Athens. After that we will have enough information with which to make a decision," he said.

Powell, who missed most of the season with a chest muscle injury, ran 9.97sec, with Michael Frater claiming the third Beijing place in 10.04sec.

Tyson Gay, the world champion, produced a time of 9.77sec at the US Olympic trials on Saturday – the third fastest time ever run, and 0.02sec inside the US national record.

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