Inside Lines: Chambers beating his Olympic ban would be a bitter pill to swallow


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The Independent Online

Dwain Chambers failed to defend his world indoor 60m title in Istanbul yesterday.

Tomorrow in London the British Olympic Association will defend their right to exclude him from the 2012 Games. The shamed sprinter is more likely to win this one.

For two decades the BOA have uniquely maintained a by-law, supported by the International Olympic Committee, that any British competitor guilty of a serious drugs offence is ineligible to compete in the Olympics – a ban, according to the latest poll, supported by more than two-thirds of UK athletes.

The World Anti-Doping Agency say this is "non-compliant", or no longer viable, a ruling that the BOA chairman Colin Moynihan and his high-powered legal team led by QCs Lord Pannick and Adam Lewis are now contesting at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. For Moynihan a vital principle is at stake: the autonomy of the BOA to select who they want to represent Team GB.

He tells us: "This goes to the very heart of international sport. We must stand behind clean competitors and take a firm line on those who have chosen to cheat the system and other athletes – just as we would against those who are overtly racist or illegally bet on their sport. It is important to send a message to the world that the Olympics should be clean. We will not select those who have knowingly and deliberately cheated."

Moynihan acknowledges that drugs offenders such as Chambers and cyclist David Millar have served statutory two-year bans and are involved in anti-doping programmes but he says they were aware of the consequences before they were caught. Though most legal observers predict the BOA will lose, there is no doubt that Moynihan, who has done much to make the organisation a compelling force in sport, holds the moral high ground.

Alas, Britain is the only nation that does. Some 800 former druggies from around the world are now eligible to compete at London 2012 – including American Justin Gatlin, who beat Chambers last night. The odds are that when the CAS verdict is given next month, Chambers will be joining them.

Sport's watching brief

No doubt, as a former steward and ex-bantamweight blue, Lord Moynihan will have his eye on the legal arguments on Wednesday as the British Boxing Board of Control decide what punishment to hand Dereck Chisora for his antics in Munich.

Chisora's lawyer, Jonathan Crystal, will have kept a watching brief on tomorrow's CAS tribunal – Chambers is also one of his clients. Absent from Chisora's "trial" will be David Haye, who can't be hauled up for his part in the débâcle as he no longer has a Board licence. But he may not escape scot-free. We hear the Munich prosecutor's office are considering a charge of GBH.

They shall go to the softball

More satisfied customers. After our recent item about how the successful GB women's softball team, mainly students, were set to miss the World Championships in Canada this summer because they could not afford £2,200 each to get there, it is good to report these Cinderellas of sport will be going to the ball.

British Airways have come up with free flights, and with other donations they can now make the trip.