'Hysterical' BOA loses battle over Chambers

Wada attacks British body after bylaw ruled invalid freeing up drug cheats for selection

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The Independent Online

Relations between the British Olympic Association and the World Anti-Doping Agency dramatically worsened yesterday in the wake of the BOA's failed attempt to protect their bylaw barring drug cheats from competing in the Olympics.

Yesterday the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled the controversial bylaw invalid, an outcome that frees Dwain Chambers and David Millar to compete in this summer's Games. It also sparked an extraordinary assault on the BOA by the Australian president of Wada, John Fahey, who criticised the BOA's "hysterical and inaccurate public statements" in defence of their bylaw. Moments after Fahey released his statement from Wada's Montreal base, Colin Moynihan, chairman of the BOA, described the ruling by CAS as a "hollow victory for Wada".

Moynihan defended the BOA's actions and called for "fundamental and far-reaching reform" of Wada. Speaking at the BOA's London HQ, Moynihan said: "We have been neither hysterical nor inaccurate, rather we have always been cautious and guarded in our response and have always put the athletes first."

Siza Agha, Chambers's lawyer, last night joined the attack on the BOA. He said: "In my view as hosts for the 2012 Olympics, this delicate and emotive issue required international diplomacy, foresight and responsibility. What we have received has been a crude and defiant display fuelled by misguided statements such as 'We have standards and the rest of the world doesn't'.

"It has in my view been an exposure of colonial arrogance that even the most extreme and blinkered should have realised could only serve to marginalise British opinion on the international stage."

As expected, a three-man CAS panel ruled that a life-time Olympic ban amounted to a second sanction on top of the immediate ban served by any athlete who fails a test. It meant the bylaw was ruled non-compliant with the Wada code, to which Britain is a signatory.

"Wada has spent the last decade harmonising the fight against doping in sport across the world by creating one set of rules," said Fahey. "In order to achieve this harmonisation, the rules have had to be proportionate and respectful of the rights of individuals within the framework of international law. They are not based on emotive arguments or the wishes of any one individual."

Currently any athlete who fails a test faces a two-year ban and Moynihan and the BOA strongly believe that is little more than a "slap on the wrists".

Moynihan said: "We live in difficult days when Wada spends time and money reducing those countries which have taken a determined stance against drug cheats in sport, such as Canada, New Zealand and ourselves, to a two-year ban which as Sir Steve Redgrave has said is tantamount to almost saying it is acceptable.

"It is also wrong in our view that all 204 national Olympic committees around the world now have to hand over their selection policy towards drug cheats to Wada or face court action.

"There has to be change," added Moynihan, who stressed he accepted the legal reasoning behind the CAS ruling. "We will lead a global campaign to seek fundamental and far-reaching reform of Wada. We will call for tougher and more realistic sanctions for first-time drug cheats."

The BOA wants a minimum four-year ban introduced for first-timers that would mean anyone who failed a test would miss the next Olympics. It also wants national Olympic committees to be given more autonomy to select their own teams.

Moynihan insists that for all the BOA's determined stance on doping, there will be no issue with either Chambers or Millar should they be selected for the London Games. An important part of the BOA's case has been the overwhelming strength of feeling among British athletes in favour of the ban.

"Clearly we are aware of the fact there are some very strongly diverse opinions on this subject amongst the athletes. We will work with the athletes, their coaches and the governing bodies to make sure they work as one team," said Moynihan. "I will give absolutely maximum support to every athlete that is selected for Team GB."

There will be no direct contact between the BOA and Chambers or Millar until they are actually selected by their respective governing bodies. Once they are chosen – as both are likely to be – Andy Hunt, chief executive of the BOA and the team's chef de mission during the Games, will meet with them and their coaches to ensure there are no problems on either side. Agha said that Chambers will take his time to study the findings before deciding whether he will seek selection. The cycling team is chosen in June, the athletics squad at the start of July.

FAIR GAME? How the world reacted to the BOA's defeat in Lausanne

BOA CEO Andy Hunt

“Sad about outcome of CAS case with Wada. We respect their decision, but were right to fight this for Team GB and all other clean athletes worldwide.”

British 100m runner Tyrone Edgar

“Good news, we can now have Chambers in our 4x100m. We need all our big guns if we gonna win a medal in London.”

British 110m hurdler Andy Turner

“Either make lifetime ban for drug cheats worldwide or scrap it completely. the world wont follow britains rules so im happy 4 dwain.”

Former Commonwealth champion Diane Modahl

“The reason the BOA struggled is because they didn't have the support.”

Victor Conte: Shamed 'Balco' nutritionist

“Dwain does deserve his second chance. Many other athletes received two-year bans. He has basically been blackballed and punished for the last nine years. [He] has done everything he can to become an anti-doping advocate and that has to be factored in.”

Former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell

“It's not like Dwain is the only person who is going to come back from a drug offence to run at the Olympics. I don't see the big deal.”

Former 110m hurdles world champion Colin Jackson

“Fans are used to him being in the team so already he has been accepted.”