Olympic champion Steve Redgrave warns of protests over drug cheats


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The Independent Online

Sir Steve Redgrave has warned there may be some protests against Dwain Chambers taking part in the Olympics from other members of the British team at London 2012 because of his drugs past.

Five-times Olympic rowing champion Redgrave, who rues a court decision bringing an end to the BOA's lifetime ban, says Chambers - banned for two years in 2004 - should now be welcomed back into the fold.

But he believes there may be some individual protests similar to Darren Campbell refusing to celebrate with the 4x100m relay team, including Chambers, after they won the 2006 European Championships.

Redgrave told the Press Association: "The law has been changed and Dwain competed at the World Championships last year.

"I think there were some individual protests about that by the relay team, which I'm sure we may see again.

"It just shows you the sort of feeling that our team of athletes have against drug cheats.

"But if the letter of the law says they're okay to compete, they will compete.

"Dwain's missed two Olympics already and what I'm suggesting is that he should be welcomed back anyway."

Chambers and cyclist David Millar are the main beneficiaries of the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturning the BOA lifetime ban and Redgrave, who supported the lifetime ban throughout his career, insists the current two-year ban is too lenient.

He added: "What would make a bigger impact is having a more realistic ban than a two-year ban to deter people.

"If an athlete gets caught drug cheating at the Games in a few months time, they're free to compete at the next Olympics.

"The next time that event comes around to compete again, you're allowed to do it.

"That's what we have to stop. There has to be the punishment to at least take you out once of that Olympic cycle.

"The ban that WADA has is not severe enough and it's making a lot of sports look very stupid."

:: Sir Steve Redgrave was speaking as a supporter of the EDF Community Rowing Challenge, which gives aspiring rowers from East London the chance to train with expert coaches and compete at the London 2012 rowing venue, developing valuable life skills in the process.