Edwards' call to Palace adds insult to injury for Chambers

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The Independent Online

Dwain Chambers: remember him? A week ago he was the talk of the town and the country beyond as his attempt to obtain an injunction against the British Olympic Association by-law precluding past doping offenders from selection for the quadrennial Games hit the High Court buffers. The one-time failed trialist with the Hamburg Sea Devils American football team emerged without a pair of horns, though to some he might as well have been Beelzebub incarnate. The two years of suspension Chambers served for being fuelled by a cocktail of performance-enhancing substances was not punishment enough. There would be no place on the Olympic stage for the Londoner who won the men's 100m at Britain's Olympic trials meeting in Birmingham. There would also be no place for him at the showpiece event on the British track and field calendar.

The London Grand Prix, staged at Crystal Palace tonight and tomorrow afternoon, happens to be affiliated to EuroMeetings, the organisation which oversees the 51 major competitive gatherings on the continental calendar, and at its General Assembly in Malta last October the group resolved to take "tough anti-doping measures". It urged members "not to invite athletes who could harm the events with their doping offences from the past". "Athletes who could cause negative publicity should not be invited to take part," a statement added. Hence the absence of Chambers from the men's 100m tonight.

In the circumstances, it was something of a surprise to find Torri Edwards invited to the Palace for the women's 100m tomorrow. Back in the last Olympic season, in the summer of 2004, she tested positive for nikethamide, a substance on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list. The American was given a two-year suspension, the same length of punishment administered to Chambers the previous summer, and she missed the Athens Olympics. An appeal to an arbitration panel failed, but in 2005 nikethamide was downgraded to the status of a stimulant by WADA and the punishment for taking it was reduced to one year. Having already served 17 months of her suspension, Edwards was cleared to return to competition.

At the World Championships in Osaka the Los Angelean finished fourth in the finals of the 100m and 200m and was a member of the United States' gold medal winning 4 x 100m relay quartet. This summer she heads the world rankings in the women's 100m, with a time of 11.78sec from the semi-finals of the US Olympic trials in Eugene last month. Unlike Chambers, she will be going for gold in Beijing when the Games begin on 8 August – attempting to emulate Mark McKoy, who served a ban for being part of the same drugs-fuelled group of Canadian athletes as Ben Johnson, the tainted winner of the men's 100m in Seoul in 1988, but who returned to claim Olympic gold in the 110m hurdles in Barcelona in 1992.

Asked about Edwards' inclusion at Crystal Palace, Jon Ridgeon – a two-time Olympian, one-time rival of McKoy, and now managing director of Fast Track, promoters of the London Grand Prix – said yesterday: "Along with all the EuroMeetings we are clear on our ruling that no athlete who has served a two-year doping ban will be invited to compete in our event. The case of Torri Edwards is slightly different in that her ban was rescinded after 17 months after the substance nikethamide was downgraded to being punishable by a one-year suspension."

There will be another athlete on parade at the Palace tonight who served a 12-month ban, although in Christine Ohuruogu's case that was not for a positive test but for missing three tests. Last summer the east Londoner returned after suspension to win the 400m world title. Tonight she runs against Nicola Sanders, the British team-mate who took the silver medal behind her in Osaka. Phillips Idowu, the Briton who leads the world triple jump rankings, is also in action tonight.

l The Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou will face a fresh disciplinary procedure if she is included in the final squad for the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee said. Thanou served a two-year ban for missing anti-doping tests in the run-up to the 2004 Olympics.

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