Belfast Telegraph

James Lawton: In real world, Chambers deserves a second shot

Naturally, another flurry of indignation follows the expected confirmation that Dwain Chambers is now free to run in the Olympics.

We are told, yet again, it is an affront to the purity of the vast majority of athletes who have fought their way to the greatest stage of track and field. In some cases, no doubt, this is true and it is to the honour of those who have turned their back on the course of action that many brilliant sprinters, including Chambers, have chosen in the belief that it was their only chance of levelling the track on which they raced for gold medals and world records.

However, the protests of the British Olympic Association, whose right to impose lifetime bans has been overturned under the force of legal argument, would be better directed not at some dreamy moral absolutes but a greater willingness to live in the real world.

Chambers received a two-year ban after testing positive and, effectively, saw the prime of his career ruined. He had nobody to blame except himself, of course, but he did face up to this reality, he did vow to rebuild his competitive life after serving his statutory ban. After giving a harrowing account of his fall from grace, he also vowed to do it cleanly.

A proper reaction to this, you have to believe is not the stamping of feet and the suggestion that Chambers belongs to some minuscule, shameful minority.

It would be to say that the war against drugs will never end, not with any certainty, and the best response is to impose new levels of punishment. The current regime will be reviewed by the World Anti-Doping Agency after the Olympics.

The consensus is that the current maximum two-year suspension will be at least doubled. This is in line with reality, unlike the relentless branding of Dwain Chambers as a lone and unforgivable cheat.

Belfast Telegraph


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