Mike Rowbottom: Not restraint of trade – just no invite to world party

Bryn Vaile remembers very clearly the emergence of the British Olympic Association's byelaw. It was initiated by competitors, not administrators, and he was one of them.

As a member of the formative BOA Athletes Commission, Vaile – a gold medallist in the 1988 Olympic Star sailing class – was among those responsible for getting the byelaw on the statute books on 25 March 1992. Along with Olympic swimming gold medallist Adrian Moorhouse, he argued its case successfully to the BOA executive committee – and he believes passionately that the byelaw should remain.

Moorhouse, Vaile and fellow members of the Athletes Commission felt that action needed to be taken to prevent doping offenders returning to represent their country in the Olympics, and had to overcome some opposition from within the BOA before they had their way.

"We looked into the legal position of restraint of trade," Vaile recalled yesterday. "But the way we saw it, this was not preventing people carrying on their careers – they could still compete in grand prix meetings or world championships."

Vaile, however, would like to see conditions become even more difficult for doping cheats. "I still believe that if you take performance-enhancing drugs, you should be banned for life," he said. "There should be no compromise to it, because that is compromising our futures. Every time a drugs cheat comes back to competition, it doesn't just tarnish the sport, and the people watching. It tarnishes the next generation, and it belittles every other clean athlete."

There is no doubt in Vaile's mind that Dwain Chambers does not deserve to return to the Olympic arena. It seems that view is held by the majority of current athletes.

The present incarnation of the BOA Athletes Commission – the British Athletes Commission – has surveyed athletes after each of the last three Olympics asking them, among other things, whether they support the byelaw. According to the BAC chief executive, Pete Gardener, the response in favour has always been 90 per cent or more.

The BOA also believes its position is validated by the International Olympic Committee's ruling which came into being at the start of this month, whereby any competitor who serves a significant doping ban will be ineligible for the Olympics that follows it. Had this rule been in place five years ago, Chambers would be doubly ineligible.

Earlier this season, UK Athletics attempted to prevent Chambers from contesting the World Indoor Championships in Valencia, claiming that he had returned to the sport without having been on their UK Sport dope-testing register for the required period of a year.

But when it emerged that Chambers had done nothing to remove himself from the register and that he was still on the International Association of Athletics Federation's register and was offering regular updates on his whereabouts, their case effectively collapsed.

Understandable as the frustration was within UK Athletics following Chambers' unwise comments about the benefits of doping – he opined that a doped athlete would have to be having "a bad day" not to beat a clean one – its stance was misguided and unfair. Chambers had served his time and he was eligible to return. Like it or not, end of story.

The question of preventing Chambers from competing at the Olympics involves different considerations, however. As Lord Coe has pointed out, when Chambers took the decision to take drugs he knew what the position was. He was putting his Olympic career into jeopardy.

The BOA feels it has taken a lead in attempting to clean up the sport and has now been effectively joined by the IOC itself. The BOA position is that it is not preventing Chambers from running, it is simply not inviting him to its own party.

Chambers was justified in claiming he had served his punishment and should be allowed back into the sport. He's back. He's the world indoor 60m silver medallist. And although much noise has been made about him not getting invites to the main meetings, he has still found places to run.

But in challenging the BOA byelaw he is attempting to shape the sport to his own particular needs, and that is a very different matter. The legal case may not be watertight, but the moral case is.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little