Dwain Chambers Goes to Olympics Much to British Olympic Association’s Dismay

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Sprinter Dwain Chambers, who served a two year suspension after testing positive for anabolic steroids in 2003, has been named to the Team GB as a representative of Great Britain in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London next month. While Chambers is thrilled to represent his country in the Olympics, the British Olympic Association (BOA) and former British Olympians likely would rather not see him there.

Chambers had used the designer steroid tetrahydrogestrinone (THG) developed by Patrick Arnold and distributed by Victor Conte of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) back in 2003. Shortly after Don Catlin developed an anti-doping test capable of detecting THG, Chambers tested positive for the steroid on November 7, 2003.

Yet the steroid positive did not represent the greatest challenge to his athletics career.

The BOA has long antagonized Chambers as the sprinter attempted to make a comeback in the sport he loves. When Chambers announced his intention to return to athletics, the BOA decided to change its by-laws specifically to prevent Chambers from competing in the Olympics. The revised BOA rules authorized a lifetime ban from Olympic competition for any athletes that has been suspended for steroids or any other performance-enhancing drug (PED).

The problem with the BOA’s by-law was that it blatantly violated the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) doping code. Since Great Britain was a signatory that had agreed to follow the WADA code, their stubborn refusal to play by the rules led to a highly publicized and acrimonious dispute with WADA.

Lord Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, challenged WADA in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Moynihan was not alone in his efforts to keep Dwain Chambers and other athletes that have been banned for steroids and PEDs out of the Olympics. Former British Olympic greats such as middle-distance runner Sebastion Coe and decathlete Daley Thompson vocally supported the BOA.

“I don’t see why we should be dragged down by the rest of the world, who impose a maximum two-year ban on even the most motivated cheaters. If we want high standards in this country then we should be entitled to them,” wrote Thompson. “If the rest of the world don’t share our standards or can’t enforce them why should we have to kowtow?”

The CAS ultimately ruled in favor of WADA and upheld Chambers’ eligibility to participate in the 2012 London Olympics. This opened the door for several other previously-suspended athletes to make the British Olympic team.

Cyclist David Millar (banned for EPO in 2003) and shot-putter Carl Myerscough (banned for anabolic steroids in 1999) will also represent Britain in London.

While the BOA spent years trying to keep Chambers and company out of the Olympics, Andy Hunt, the BOA chief executive officer, claimed that Chambers, Millar and Myerscough have their full support.

“I think we’ve always said that once the bylaw fell away any athlete that’s eligible to compete with Team GB will be welcomed into the team,” Hunt said. “There is no two-tier team. We’ll absolutely treat every athlete in the same way. We’ll give every athlete the same support.”

British Olympic Association


AP. (July 3, 2012). Ex-doping offender David Millar put on British Olympic team. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/sports/olympics/london/cycling/story/2012-07-04/david-millar-named-to-british-team/56012360/1