Judge: Sprinter Chambers Can't Compete in Beijing

July 18, 2008 12:11:24 PM PDT
British sprinter Dwain Chambers failed Friday in his bid to overturn a lifetime Olympic ban because of doping, and will not be able to compete at the Beijing Games. London's High Court refused to grant an injunction against the British Olympic Association's bylaw that bans doping violators for life from the games. Chambers' legal team said it would not appeal the decision. "The judge has made his decision," Chambers said. The sprinter did not comment on possible retirement plans. His attorney suggested in court Thursday that Chambers was likely to retire if he lost the case. Chambers, who won the 100 meters at last Saturday's British Olympic trials in 10 seconds, served a two-year ban after testing positive for the steroid THG in August 2003. The BOA, which is expected to announce its final sprint squad Saturday ahead of Sunday's deadline, said it would not seek to be reimbursed for its costs. It also regretted that Chambers had wasted his "undoubted talent." "It is a matter of regret that Dwain Chambers ... should by his own actions have put himself out of the running to shine on the Olympic stage in Beijing," BOA chairman Colin Moynihan said. "However, on behalf of the athletes, the BOA will continue to send a powerful and important message that nobody found guilty of serious drug cheating offenses should have the honor of wearing a Team GB vest at the Olympic Games." Chambers would have been eligible to compete had only International Olympic Committee rules applied. "We now consider the issue closed and look forward to Beijing and turn all our focus to our final preparations of the athletes who will represent Great Britain," UK Athletics spokeswoman Claire Furlong said. In his deliberation, Judge Colin Mackay highlighted the new IOC rule, which came into effect July 1 but is not retroactive, banning athletes from the following Olympics if they have received a drug suspension of at least six months. "We welcome the court's judgment," IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said. "We believe in a zero tolerance approach to athletes who take banned drugs." Mackay said Chambers had little chance of winning a medal in Beijing and that it would be unfair to deny an opportunity for athletes who had never taken drugs, upsetting the harmony of the team. He also feared athletes in other sports could launch immediate appeals if Chambers won his bid, such as cyclist David Millar and shot putter Carl Myerscough, who were each convicted of doping offenses. "Many people both inside and outside sport would see this bylaw as unlawful," Mackay said. "In my judgment, it would take a much better case than the claimant has presented to persuade me to overturn the status quo at this stage and compel his selection for the games." Mackay said Chambers' argument of restraint of trade would be unlikely to succeed at a full trial, even if he could argue that there are indirect financial benefits from appearing at the amateur event. "His 10-second time achieved last weekend is confronted by the fact that there will be nine other athletes in Beijing who have run a faster time this year," Mackay said. Mackay noted with frustration that Chambers only issued the proceeding against the BOA at the "11th hour" on July 3, meaning that the time to assimilate the arguments was limited. The arguments were digested in court in a one-day hearing Thursday. They were earlier submitted in written form. The BOA had argued that if Chambers succeeded, the British team's reputation would be tarnished and London's ability to deliver the 2012 Games would be impaired because sponsors would be unwilling to invest. Chambers' lawyer, Jonathan Crystal, told the court Thursday it was "an exaggerated position" and argued that his client's "redemption and rehabilitation" after testing positive for THG should be recognized. Chambers briefly returned to the track in 2006 after serving his two-year ban and pursued an alternative - but ultimately unsuccessful - foray into American football. The 30-year-old Chambers returned to the track in March and won a silver medal in the 60 at the World Indoors.