The presentation ceremony following Dwain Chambers's emphatic 100m victory here at the Aviva Olympic trials characterised the unease that his bid to reach the Beijing Games has caused within the domestic sport.
Standing alongside the third-placed Craig Pickering, who has put on record his disapproval of Chambers's attempt to negate the British Olympic Association bylaw that prevents doping offenders appearing at future Games, the man who faces a crucial High Court hearing on Wednesday received his medal from Ed Warner, chairman of UK Athletics.
It was hardly the most sensitive of arrangements given that UKA did its level best earlier this year to prevent Chambers from running in the World Indoor trials and Warner's smile was a suitably fixed one. The crowd, too, seemed unsure of how to react. Amid the polite applause which characterises the regular attendees of this event there were a number of boos, and one spectator was heard to shout out "Chambers, you're a cheat", causing the target of the opprobrium to grin and make ironic gestures inviting further comments.
Chambers's time of 10.00sec was the fastest ever run here with a legal following wind. More critical to the 30-year-old right now, though, is what degree of legal following wind he will encounter when Lord Justice Mackay deliberates on whether to give him the injunction he requires to suspend the BOA bylaw and run in China.
Should the 30-year-old former European champion be successful, the immediate effect looks like being disappointment for the 26-year-old American-based Tyrone Edgar, who was fourth in 10.22. Edgar, whose mother, Rita, drives a bus on the 188 route through Islington in London, is now in danger of missing the bus himself despite the fact that he has a timing of 10.06sec to his credit this season and won last month's European Cup 100m.
Having denied any interest in Chambers's predicament earlier in the week, Edgar, who left the track looking thunderously unhappy, had a different take on matters yesterday. "Obviously I think the Olympic ban should stand," he said. "There is a rule about drugs but it's not up to me. I wouldn't be too happy though if I didn't go to the Games. The Olympics are my dream. I have no personal animosity towards Dwain but he did what he did and rules are rules."
Chambers, who fell foul of the bylaw unilaterally imposed by the BOA in 1992 by testing positive for the banned steroid THG in 2003, insisted afterwards that his performance had been clean. But he went on to further complicate the vexed issue by referring to his imminent involvement with the sprint relay team.
"All this has given me confidence, especially for the 4x100m," he said. "I've been told that the first two past the post are automatically selected for the relay. That's what I was told despite what UKA have said in the past. I'm not going to blow that person out. But I would make myself available."
Chambers's involvement with the sprint relay team at the 2006 European Championships prompted his team-mate Darren Campbell to make his feelings of disenchantment clear by refusing to go on a lap of honour. Now he is pushing his case for inclusion in the one area where, even if they have to abide by a court decision to name Chambers in the individual event, the UKA selectors have the power to choose.
The relay squad has trained regularly this year and is funded by the World Class Performance programme – for which Chambers is not eligible. Earlier this season, Chambers insisted: "The team has been working together and it would be unfair for me to come in and ruin all their work." However, he had a different take on matters this weekend.
Asked whether Chambers would make the relay team if he secured Olympic selection, the UKA performance director, Dave Collins, responded with a resounding maybe. It is at such times that the realpolitik emerges in a sport whose Lottery funding is predicated by medals won.
When the UKA selectors announce their main Olympic selection today they are likely just to name the second placed 100m runner, Chambers's erstwhile training partner Simeon Williamson, who finished second in a personal best of 10.03.
Pickering, who recorded 10.19, appears to be the leader in the clubhouse as far as the third individual place is concerned, taking into account his relative youth, he is 21, and his championship record, a European junior title and a European indoor silver last year.
Meanwhile, Ed Moses, Olympic 400m hurdles champion in 1976 and 1984 and a major promoter of out-of-competition drug testing, has said that preventing Chambers from appearing in Beijing would be "almost like a death sentence". The sprinter can only wait and wonder now whether Lord Justice Mackay will be wearing his metaphorical black cap.
Chambers plot: The unfolding drama
*Saturday Chambers wins the final of the 100m at the British Olympic trials in Birmingham in a time of 10sec, with Simeon Williamson second and Craig Pickering third. Normally this would guarantee Chambers a place in the team going to Beijing next month, along with Williamson.
*Today British Olympic Association set to confirm majority of the athletics selections for Beijing but is expected to delay naming the sprint team until the High Court case.
*Wednesday Chambers' attempt to overturn the BOA's bylaw banning those convicted of doping offences from representing Britain at the Games is heard by Lord Justice Mackay at the High Court. If he is successful in obtaining an injunction lifting the ban until a full hearing next year, Chambers goes to Beijing. The BOA must then decide if Pickering or European Cup-winner Tyrone Edgar gets third, discretionary 100m spot.
*Sunday Deadline to name full British Olympic team.Reuse content