The news that Dwain Chambers has now qualified for the London 2012 Olympic GB athletic team has caused ripples and mixed reactions across the sporting world, with some people still disappointed that his ban was overturned and others saying that Chambers has paid the price and should now be allowed to carry on his athletic career. For those who do not know the history of Dwain Chambers, he tested positive for a banned substance in October 2003 and was suspended soon afterwards with an independent UK Athletics tribunal pending. A disciplinary hearing in February 2004 resulted in Chambers getting a two-year ban from athletics, backdated to begin on 7 November 2003 and Chambers was also banned for life from the Olympics and stripped of the medals he had won since mid-2002, after admitting that he had taken the steriod THG from that date. Chambers initially denied that he had any knowledge that the substance he was taking was banned, however, in a later frank confession he admitted to the use of epitestosterone cream, EPO, HGH, insulin lispro, modafinil and liothyronine.
As for Chambers now inclusion into the UK Athletic squad, there are some people who will welcome him and others who feel he should not have been given a second chance. Some people think that Chambers is a really lovely man who simply made one life changing mistake and since this mistake he has made every effort to correct it with his attempts at redemption becoming centre stage for the very credibility of Britain’s hard-line stance on performance enhancing drugs in sport. People that know Chambers say that he is very sorry and does not take anything now for granted. They say that he did the right thing after the test as he confessed to all the substances he had been taking and made no excuse for them. Chamber’s agent says that this in itself sets him apart from the rest. The rest presumably try any excuse under the sun to try and wriggle out from investigation or prosecution. Excuses such as contamination, spiked supplements or pure ignorance. Chambers’ competitors and detractors have another stance however and that is that under British Law, he was given a lifetime ban and now he is running for the UK.
Here in Britain if you are caught taking illegal substances you will never be allowed to compete or represent Great Britain at an Olympic Games. The British Olympic Association say that this is the code of honour that athletes undertake when they compete here for their country. There is no second chance and it acts as a deterrent to up and coming young athletes that might be tempted to use performance enhancing drugs, as Chambers was. The Court of Arbitration (CAS) for Sport, however has deemed that Chambers should have another chance as it is ‘the right thing to do’. How you stand on the Chambers issue depends on whether you take the moral high ground of a ‘one strike and you are out’ deterrent or if you believe the two year ban should be made to be longer so that potential Olympics hopefuls would miss the games, for instance if a ban was for 5 years.
In the meantime there is no doubt that Chambers is relishing running for his country again. He was said to have said that being part of Team GB was “a real honour” and “a privilege that should never be taken for granted”. He added that “To be given the opportunity to do so in my home town has been a dream that at times has seemed very distant and is now a reality.” Whatever happens at the games, he is now part of the GB team and we should support him fully. Let’s hope Dwain Chambers gets cheered instead of booed.