Chambers shows a clean pair of heels

Disgraced sprinter puts his mounting problems to one side to produce a record-breaking performance
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The Independent Online

The ink on his autobiography has already dried, but another page of the Dwain Chambers story was written in the Oval Lingotto here in the shadow of the Alps yester-day. Running in the semi-finals of the 60 metres on day two of the Euro-pean Indoor Championships, the Belgrave Harrier blitzed from his starting blocks and left Jason Gardner's British record (6.46sec), Ronald Pognan's European record (6.45) and Gardener's championship record (6.49) in tatters. His stunning time, 6.42, was just 0.03 shy of Maurice Greene's 10-year-old world record for the indoor sprint distance.

The way Chambers has been running, a class apart from every other speed merchant in this indoor season, he may well claim the global mark today. It could possibly be the final chapter of his track career. While tainted sprinter gets ready for the final, though, the governing body of track and field are preparing to throw the book at him. It happens to be the International Association of Athletics Federations' own rule book, although it might as well be Chambers' autobiography, Race Against Me, which hits the bookshelves tomorrow.

The IAAF have not taken kindly to the casting of a cloud over their sport, and over these continental championships – which featured a brilliant, championship record-breaking, gold medal-winning 3,000m run by Britain's Mo Farah yesterday – by the newspaper serialisation of the sprinter's tale. It has raked up his doping past and contained stinging criticism of several leading figures in the athletics world, among them Lord Coe, who happens to be a vice- president of the global authority.

At their next council meeting, in Berlin in a fortnight, the IAAF will consider whether Chambers has brought his sport into disrepute and ask their lawyers to investigate whether that would give them grounds to rip up the agreement they struck allowing the Londoner to return to competition after his doping suspension without an upfront repayment of the £150,000 in prize money that he collected while fuelled by the products of Victor Conte's Balco drugs factory.

Chambers was cleared to return in 2006 on the agreement that he repaid as he earned. Three years on, he still owes £120,000, and with a bar on reinstated doping offenders competing in the main invitation events on the European circuit, he is struggling to make repayments. Now, having upset the governing body, he could be asked to find the balance if he wants to keep on running.

An IAAF source said last night: "We have a council meeting in Berlin later this month and this issue will be discussed. We will be taking advice from our lawyers, who will decide if Chambers has brought the sport into disrepute. If this is the case then we will act, and the most likely course of action to take is to insist on all monies owed to be paid back in full before he can compete again. That, to all intents and purposes, would mean the end of his career."

Unless the lawyers suggest otherwise, that is. Or unless the earnings from Chambers' book can meet the difference.

Not that Chambers was even aware of the implications as he left the track late yesterday, savouring his place in the record books and looking forward not just to the 60m final today but to a shot at Usain Bolt at the World Championships in Berlin in August. "I didn't expect to run that fast today," he said. "Christmas has come twice for me. I'm running faster than ever before. It shows that what I did all those years ago didn't work for me. I'm enjoying what I'm doing now. I'm planning for Project Bolt."

Unless the IAAF dictate otherwise, of course. The supreme irony is that, at the age of 30, Chambers is running faster on natural talent than he ever did with a tank full of drugs. His time yesterday equates to a 100m run of between 9.81sec and 9.83sec – a time bettered only by Bolt with his world-record 9.69 in the Olympic final in Beijing last August. Chambers' best time with illegal chemical assistance was 9.87 at the IAAF Grand Prix Final in Paris in 2002. It gave him a joint share of the European record with Linford Christie, though Chambers' name was removed from the record books when he tested positive for drugs in 2003.

Chambers also lost the European 100m title he won in Munich in 2002. A replacement over the indoor 60m distance seems certain to come his way today. The second semi-final yesterday produced another clear victory by a Briton, Simeon William-son prevailing in an impressive 6.57sec, so a Great British one-two would appear to be on the cards.

There was just the one British medal yesterday but it was a hugely impressive one, and golden too. Farah pulled clear over the last two laps of the 3,000m to win with almost two seconds to spare, clocking 7min 40.17sec, a championship record. It was the first success story for the Britain team in Turin: Farah, from the madding crowd.

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