Simon Turnbull: It's a sorry state to have sympathy for the devil

The Way I See It: When Gatlin was banned he blamed a grudge-bearing masseur for administering some dodgy cream

The verdict is almost in. Any day now – by the end of the month at the latest – the Court of Arbitration for Sport will announce whether the British Olympic Association can maintain the by-law that precludes athletes from all sports who have served doping suspensions of six months or longer from selection for the British Olympic team.

It seems a foregone conclusion. Ever since CAS pronounced last October that the International Olympic Committee rule barring returning drug offenders was "invalid and unenforceable", the BOA by-law has been living on borrowed time.

Sadly so, it has to be said. "Sport loses out to cheaters," the British 400 metres champion Martyn Rooney tweeted on the day the IOC ban was lifted. "It's not a good day for people who don't take drugs."

Indeed, it was not. It meant that Rooney, a Croydon boy blessed with natural talent as huge as his 6ft 5in frame, would have to face LaShawn Merritt in the Olympic arena on the other side of his hometown this summer. And that Justin Gatlin, Merritt's US team-mate, and the rest of the drug takers reinstated in Olympic sports since the Beijing Games, would be free to go for gold.

It also meant that only former British dopers, such as the 100m runner Dwain Chambers and the cyclist David Millar, would be regarded as persona non grata at the London Games. It meant, inevitably, that pressure would be brought to bear upon the BOA and ultimately the Court of Arbitration for Sport to ensure the one-time cheats from these shores were treated the same as the one-time cheats from the rest of the world.

And rightly so. It was not right that Gatlin, a man who has served not one but two drugs bans, could sit in the press conference room after winning the 60m final at the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Istanbul last month talking about challenging Usain Bolt for the 100m title in London while Chambers, the bronze medallist in the 60m race in Turkey, faced the prospect of kicking his heels in frustration when the Olympics came to his hometown.

It is a sorry state of affairs when sport has come to this: feeling sympathy for the devil – Chambers was banned from athletics for two years after testing positive for a frightening range of banned performance-enhancing products from the Balco drug factory run by Victor Conte. But there you have it. Such is the sporting world we inhabit.

There was a time, in the aftermath of Ben Johnson's positive test at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, when there was hope of a level playing field being found for the benefit of the countless number of athletes from all sports who have spent their lives toiling to the limit to maximise their natural talent.

As a club athlete, I used to join in with the training of a female athlete who competed in those Olympic Games, and in Barcelona in 1992. She could not have toiled any harder, pushing herself to the limit twice a day – sometimes three times – on the track, in the gym, on the roads, in the woods, even up and down sand dunes.

She knew that a good many of her rivals on the world stage were cheating, and that was a source of no little frustration to her. However, she always said: "Unfortunately, I can do nothing about that. I can only concentrate on getting the very best out of myself."

Thus it has been for the rest of the good guys and gals of Olympic sport ever since. Big bad Ben might have been caught in the drugs net in Seoul 24 years ago but athletes from all sports have kept on trying to beat the system – as Chambers, Millar, Merritt and Gatlin can all testify. Or not, as the case may be.

When Gatlin tested positive for amphetamines in 1999 he was banned but reinstated, after pleading that they were contained in medication he was taking to treat attention deficit disorder. When he was banned for excessive levels of testosterone in 2006 he blamed a grudge-bearing masseur for administering some dodgy cream.

Similarly, although Merritt served a 21-month ban after testing positive three times for dehydroepiandrostrerone, he maintained that he was unaware he was ingesting the anabolic steroid as one of the ingredients contained in ExtenZe, a male enhancement product.

A silver medal winner at the World Championships in Daegu after returning to the track last summer, Merritt still insists: "I did not take any performance-enhancing drugs – nothing to enhance my performance on the track."

It was much the same when Brazilian long jumper Maurren Maggi tested positive for clostebol in 2003. She claimed the anabolic steroid was contained in anti-scaring gel she was using. She was suspended for two years but was back in action in time to compete in Beijing in 2008, and win.

So the rest of the world's former drug offenders – and, indeed, our own – would not be the first to win tarnished Olympic gold. Sadly.

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower