Inside Lines: London's 'clean' Olympic Games will still be a charter for cheats


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The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport will come to London to hear the British Olympic Association's case for banning drugs cheats from the Games for life. But don't expect a home-town decision when they meet on 16 March.

Even Sir Craig Reedie, the former BOA chair and current board member, expects the rule to be overturned, leaving UK athletes such as Dwain Chambers and the cyclist David Millar free to compete in London. CAS have already ruled against the International Olympic Committee on the same issue and Reedie says: "My feeling is the same CAS panel is unlikely to change its mind." He accepts the BOA hold the moral high ground but adds: "In law, lifetime bans are very difficult to sustain – four years (as imposed on British sprinter Bernice Wilson last week) is viewed as just about proportionate for a maximum sentence." It is a dilemma for Reedie. One of the prime architects of London's 2012 bid, he is also a member of the IOC executive board and the World Anti-Doping Authority who have declared the BOA rule "non compliant". At least the BOA are testing the water, so to speak, with the knowledge that London's £10 million anti-doping facility will be the world's best, able to deal with 400 blood and urine samples a day during the Games. However, as the former Olympian Roger Black points out, there will still be plenty of druggies competing in London, not least those who blatantly cheat the system by coming off the "juice" weeks before to be clean for the Games.

Tainting Ali's legacy

Certain high-minded scribes – mainly those who never met him or saw him fight – have been reminding us of Muhammad Ali's darker days following his conversion to the Nation of Islam. Yes, he did hold some extreme views for a while. Hard not to when you become world champion but are still called "nigger". And no one ever said he was a saint in the ring. But it is the mellowing of Ali for which we should remember him, along with his talent. He was the first high-profile Muslim in the United States to publicly condemn 9/11 and last year was instrumental in the release of American hostages from Iran. His 70th birthday celebrations were moving, especially as there may not be many more. Ali's condition deteriorates by the day, though, as former camp manager Gene Kilroy says: "Muhammad always fought his best with his back to the ropes."

All of a twitter

No surprise that Joey Barton has been named as sport's "naughtiest" tweeter by Tweetsport, who call him "the Charlie Sheen of football tweeters". Rugby's prize went to Bath forward and IoS columnist David Flatman, who doubtless will be flattered to know he proves that "not all rugby players are dwarf tossing ferry jumpers".

Questionable sport

Former footballer Bradley Walsh, who hosts ITV quiz show The Chase, posed this question last week: In which sport did the politician Kate Hoey win a world championship? Judo, a baffled contestant was informed. But the question was as wrong as the answer. Kate Howey was the judo champ, though Hoey was indeed a champion – as a Northern Ireland junior high jumper. Not quite as embarrassing as an earlier question when a "corpsing" Walsh giggled: "At which sport does Fanny Chmelar compete ?" It's skiing.