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A lot of people in athletics won't want to hear this, but there was a buzz and energy at Birmingham's Alexander Stadium on Saturday for the 100m final at the British Olympic trials, a buzz I have not known at the event before, and it was all because of one event and one man.

I was commentating for 5 Live as Dwain Chambers stormed through to win with a time bang on 10 seconds.

That edginess and buzz wasn't there on Sunday, even though most of the major names were competing that day. Everybody I spoke to uttered phrases like "after the Lord Mayors show" and "doesn't it feel different?". And it did feel different.

Dwain Chambers wins the 100m at the Olympic trials

I need to preface all of this by saying what's happening with Chambers isn't good in this sport, in that every time the man appears we have to mention drugs. In the climate a year on from Justin Gatlin's case, and less than a year from the Marion Jones saga, this is a time the sport can ill-afford to be tainted this way every time we come to a meeting.

But all of this can be used as a positive. One way I have suggested concerns the athletes involved. Craig Pickering, 21, finished third and Simeon Williamson, 22, was second, and wherever they go from here - an Olympics or world championships - they will not face anything as high-octane as this. They won't be at an occasion that's had anything like the attention and controversy this had.

They are both very promising for 2012 and if at any time they have any doubts about their form, or their confidence, or their nerves begin to engulf them, they have now got a reference point where they can say, "I kept my composure, I kept my head, I kept my control and I can do it again."

So that was one race, or a series of races, that can be used for the good of an element of this sport.

We shouldn't dodge the issue that controversy actually helps some sports achieve limelight. I accept that this is not the kind of limelight athletics wants, but from all the newspapers spread across our commentary box after Saturday, one of them had a double page spread with a huge photo of Chambers. Beneath it was an article on Phillips Idowu and Kelly Sotherton.

People, who otherwise would not have read about Kelly or Phillips and flicked the page on to football, rugby or whatever, were probably drawn to it because what they read about Chambers. So that's another element where the sport can benefit from all of this.

To some people in this sport and in the stadium at the weekend, that will be like blasphemy, but we need to get real about it. This sport needs oxygen and it needs attention. If for the sake of a couple of months this is the way it's getting it then the sport should use it.

What's important is the sport as a whole, and the authorities, are seen to be strong - and they have been. For all the mistakes UK Athletics has made in this Chambers issue, they have to be at least saluted for trying to keep him out of the team which the BOA are still trying to do now.

So as long as they are seen on the outside to be taking an anti-drug stance then they shouldn't dismiss all this baggage that comes with Chambers as negative. It's here and we have to deal with it, and there are ways to deal with it for the benefit of the sport and competitors.

Going back through 120 years of history in my other sport, boxing, promoters have thrived on controversy - the more controversial the element then the more tickets they will sell. I accept this is a different kind of controversy and this is controversy that can greatly affect the image and credibility of athletics, but we cannot dance around the atmosphere that was generated on Saturday.

Mike Costello was talking to BBC Sport's Mark Ashenden.

Mike Costello is BBC Radio 5 Live's athletics and boxing commentator. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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