Dwain Chambers should be allowed to compete in the forthcoming Beijing Olympics. What is certain, other than Chambersí self-confessed use of performance enhancing substances, is the frankly farcical treatment he has suffered at the hands of those governing British athletics.
Chambers has admitted his misdemeanours, served his penance, won silver in the 60m at the World Indoor Championships and looks certain to record the necessary qualifying time at the upcoming Olympic trials. A spent ban should mean past transgressions have no bearing on future endeavours and Chambers has done everything asked of him, thus far, as a now clean athlete.
This is not simply about Britainís medal-winning prospects; UK Athletics cannot sideline a sprinter, allow him return to competition, allow him to re-establish himself as the nationís leading light in his discipline and allow him to represent his country at world level, only for the British Olympic Association to continue to enforce a lifetime ban on his Olympic participation. Chambers would argue that he is being punished for the same crime twice, (and is set to do so in court), but he is wrong. This is not merely punishment, this is torture.
One absolutely cannot condone drugs in sport; that is not up for debate. There must, however, be uniformity in punishment. The governing bodies of British athletics have actually done this to themselves. I would have no objection should both UKA and the BOA enforce lifetime bans for those found guilty of abusing performance enhancing drugs, but they cannot continue to visit the same colossal injustice on athletes in the future as they have done Mr. Chambers.
Furthermore, there must be a degree of international uniformity with regard to punishments. Justin Gatlin Iím sure feels aggrieved that his initial 4-year ban is double that imposed on Chambers by UKA. While they have undoubtedly visited the punishment on themselves, such lack of consistency is not just. A blanket lifetime ban for drugs offenders on a global scale simply disgraces the individual, rather than allowing the individual to muddy the name of athletics in the courtroom and the press, through wrangling over an unclear and inconsistent approach to what should be the simplest of punishments to administer.
The bottom line is that Chambers, and all other athletes in the same position, should be allowed to compete at the Olympics until both UKA and the BOA have addressed their stance accordingly.