The Olympian Debate
With the Beijing Olympics growing closer and bets being hedged on how many medals Britain can amass, the debate of whether Dwayne Chambers should be allowed to race is gathering momentum. Chambers has filed papers against the British Olympic Association to challenge his Olympic ban. To do so he is challenging the legality of the bylaw which the BOA has used to impose his ban upon him, claiming that it constitutes a restraint of trade. And whilst he has his supporters, his critics are more vocal, active and persistent.
Olympic legend and five time gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave and Olympic runner Dame Kelly Holmes have both signed a petition backed by more than 100 professional Olympic athletes which supports his Olympic ban. Holmes has spoken of Chambers being a “cheat” and saying that the only way to stamp out drugs cheats is to stick to the bans which are threatened. However, Chambers does have redeeming factors. Firstly he has handed a document to the BOA explaining exactly how he administered his steroid treatment and giving details of how he skipped drugs tests. Secondly he could be a great ambassador for drug-free competing after recently speaking of how good it felt to “win a race clean”. What better advertisement for drug-free sport can there be than to have a one time drug cheat turned honest competitor speak of how alive it makes him feel to win a race on his own merit as opposed to the steroids he was taking. Lord Sebastian Coe has voiced his disapproval of Chambers’ actions and said he feels there is “no room for drugs cheats in sport”, but whether his opinion matches that of the court remains to be seen.
His critics will say that Chambers deserves no second chance and that his ban will serve as a necessary deterrent to others. Others will feel that he is being made a scapegoat due to the high profile of his downfall whilst others have had their bans overturned and that he would be a good advert for ‘clean’ sport, so to speak, as he has seen both sides and spoken of the benefits of avoiding drug-use. One thing, however, is for certain. Dwayne Chambers is an extremely fast man, possibly the fastest on the planet, and whilst his cheating was unacceptable his new efforts are commendable. Whether Team GB is allowed to use its most dangerous weapon is yet to be seen, and whatever the outcome controversy will not be far away.
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