James Lawton: Raise a glass to Chambers' absence but it is a drop of rough justice

What a relief Dwain Chambers will not now contaminate the British track and field team in Beijing, how splendid that – in an admittedly perhaps less than thunderous judgment by Mr Justice Mackay – we have been freed from the ambivalence of seeing one of the most graphically candid cheats in the history of sport stepping up on to the Olympic podium on our behalf.

Roll on, indeed, the British games of innocent ambition – and yes, indeed, pass me a pink gin old boy and press up my blazer won't you, because isn't everything as well as it could possibly be in the best of all our possible worlds since the outrageous fellow refused to get on with the rest of his miserable life with a minimum fuss?

No, of course, Chambers is not a suitable case for sympathy. Of course he dragged his sport into the gutter. But, still, who really finds it easy to send him into the wilderness, the sole pariah of a sport which now has no other option than to survive behind whatever cover it can be find?

The gut-wrenching problem is that everybody knows that if a disaffected coach had not slipped an incriminating syringe into the mail and blown the Balco lab scandal wide open, Chambers would not be skulking away from the chance of stardom in China in a few weeks' time but at the epicentre of the attention.

He would have been a lion of Britain, not a jackal, and this is what sticks in the craw now as somebody like Michele Verroken, the former head of anti-doping and ethics for UK Athletics says: "I would urge other nations around the world to consider the same eligibility law because it is a very important way of protecting the integrity of the Olympics.

"There is more cheating that is surreptitious and deceptive, which is corrupting. So it is important we send the clear message that those who compete without the use of drugs get the privilege to compete in the Olympics."

Unfortunately, Ms Verroken's clarion call for the British way does not include any convincing explanation of why it is that Christine Ohuruogu also enjoys this privilege despite missing three straight drug tests?

Of course, there is a huge difference between her and the unpardonable Chambers. He used a drug that could not be identified in testing, and not only has Christine Ohuruogu not tested positive, she only made nonsense of the testing programme, as such a high-profile athlete, and the future world 400 metres champion, because she was subject to bouts of forgetfulness.

Maybe that was the case, however far the proposition stretches credibility in the age of institutionalised drug-taking; but then how comfortable are we with a judgment that, in effect, indulgently chuckles over Little Miss Scatterbrain but decides that another young Londoner is so evil, as opposed to opportunistic, that he belongs nowhere else but in some outer darkness.

The trouble with the British Olympic Association's automatic ban on those guilty of drug offences – which is supposed to include those who failed to present themselves for tests – is that it has been ruled to be arbitrary and unfair in 16 successful challenges, including the recent one by Ohuruogu.

In yesterday's celebrations the BOA must have been cautioned by some of the words of Judge Mackay. He declared: "Many people, both inside and out of sport, would see the [BOA] by-law as unlawful."

They do indeed, and it seems likely that having lost in their bid for an injunction, the Chambers camp will return to the issue with a wider case than the one that the judge rejected yesterday as too narrow in its emphasis on restraint of trade.

For Chambers the blow is that he cannot exploit his fame or his notoriety at the highest level in the work for which he was trained. He protests that no one should be beyond the power of redemption. When you think of the scale of his deceit, the old willingness to cheat his way to any amount of faked gold, the new declaration that he wants to win clean is unlikely to win more than a few hearts and even fewer minds.

He will not be missed in the big stadium in Beijing, but then nor will any sense that his shocking fall, and his grotesque campaign built on deception that he was told was so sophisticated it was beyond detection, has taught more than one lesson. Yesterday's judgment did nothing to deflect us from the bitter conclusion that the rejection of Dwain Chambers confirmed only one thing. It was that there is still only one indictable offence in big-time athletics. It is to be caught, as in the Chambers case, dead to rights.

Otherwise, life goes on. So, please, pass that glass of pink gin.

Suggested Topics
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
football
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Life and Style
tech
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Assessor

£26000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: SAP Assessor Job T...

KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

HR Advisor (Employee Relations) - Kentish Town, NW London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor (Employee Rela...

Derivatives Risk Commodities Business Analyst /Market Risk

£600 - £800 per day: Harrington Starr: Derivatives Risk Commodities Business A...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering