A number of British athletes, including the Olympic gold medallist Mark Hunter, have expressed disappointment at the imminent overturning of the British Olympic Association's controversial bylaw that bans dopers from the Games for life.
A decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport is expected early next week and it seems certain to free Dwain Chambers and David Millar to compete in this summer's London Games. Yesterday Dave Brailsford, British Cycling's performance director, said he would pick Millar if he considered him the best person for the team, echoing the words of Andy Hunt, the BOA chief executive, that if the ban is overturned both men will be "embraced" by the British team.
Polling by the BOA has found consistently high support for the ban remaining – over 75 per cent at the last count – and it remains to be seen how athletes react to a possible return by Chambers and Millar. Both are expected to wait for the judgement and then gauge reaction before making any decision. Yesterday Hunter, a rowing gold in Beijing who is preparing to defend his title in London, tweeted: "Looks like bad news for BOA and British sport." Hunter believes the World Anti Doping Agency, who sanction a two-year ban, must follow the "BOA rule if they really want to stop athletes who knowingly cheat and use banned substances".
It is an issue Hunter, and many Olympians, feel strongly about. Hunter last month told The Independent: "It drives me nuts this debate about it – if you're a drug cheat, you're gone." Kelly Sotherton was another to express her "sadness" about the likely overturning of the ban.
Chambers, who was banned for two years for the use of anabolic steroids, remains this country's best 100m runner and seems certain to make the Games. Millar, banned for the use of EPO in 2004, is a leading contender for the road-race team having played a pivotal role in Mark Cavendish's world triumph last year. Brailsford said: "My job is to pick the fastest team, the best team that can win that race in London. It is not my job to decide if somebody is eligible or not. I will get shown a list of people who are eligible, then I will look at performance and decide who is most likely to get the result and I will pick them."