Dwain Chambers emerged as Britain's fastest 100 metres sprinter of the moment last night as he recorded a time of 10.05sec in hot conditions at the Pavel Pavlov meeting in Sofia. It was the 30-year-old Londoner's fastest admissable 100m since 2001, two years before he tested positive for illegal steroids,and it put him 0.01sec ahead of Tyrone Edgar in the domestic rankings with the Olympic trials less than a fortnight away.
The performance underlines Chambers's claim that he is the leading 100m performer in this country and has the right to pursue his ambition of earning a place at this summer's Olympics by overturning the British Olympic Association byelaw in the High Court.
"I'm moving in the right direction," he said last night. "The legal stuff I'm leaving to my lawyers. I'm just concentrating on running as fast as I can, and I can still go a lot faster, believe me. I know when I get to Beijing I'll be a threat."
Chambers will pursue his appeal against a lifetime Olympic ban later this week despite a petition signed by almost a hundred past and present British athletes. Dame Kelly Holmes and Sir Steve Redgrave are among those who are backing the retention of the British Olympic Association's byelaw which prevents serious doping offenders from competing at future Games, something Chambers, who served a two-year ban after a positive test in 2003, is seeking to challenge in the High Court.
Nick Collins, Chambers's lawyer, maintained yesterday that the appeal would go ahead regardless of the latest show of opposition. "The petition speaks volumes for the names that are not on it as much as for the names that are on it,' he added.
Should Chambers, who ran an Olympic qualifying time of 10.06sec in Germany on Saturday, achieve his Olympic ambition he will face a field including the current world champion.
Tyson Gay won the 100m at the US Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon on Sunday night in a time of 9.68sec - which surpassed the mark of 9.69sec set by Bahama's Obadele Thompson as the fastest ever recorded for the distance.
Massive following winds invalidated both performances for record purposes - only times set with assisting winds of 2.0 metres per second or less are allowable, and Gay, who ran a legal 9.77sec in Saturday's quarter-finals, had a 4.1mps wind at his back.
Respected track statistician Stan Greenberg commented : 'My gut feeling is that his final run was worth less intrinsically than his 9.77'. Track and Field News tables adjusted to altitude and wind deem the 9.68 to be worth 9.86 legal.