In 1992 I still held some hope of getting fit again to possibly challenge for Olympic selection. That was also the year that the British Olympic Association passed their eligibility bye-law which renders any athlete found guilty of a doping offence, from that date on, ineligible for selection to the Team GB.
Dwain Chambers in 1992 was 14 and therefore was yet to consider just how close he may have been to senior, never mind Olympic selection for his country. Therefore throughout his entire senior career he knew that the bye-law he is challenging in court this week was in place. Even when he was taking performance enhancing drugs he was aware that if found out his eligibility would be taken away.
Over the weekend we held the 2008 Olympic trials and chambers won the 100m in 10 seconds flat. A less than 3 years after he was banned by the IAAF. Sue Barkers two sparring partners Colin Jackson and Jonathan Edwards had their own opinions on the ban and these weeks inevitable court case after Dwain's success. Colin was of the opinion that the bye-law was clearly known by all including Chambers. It wasn't protested before by anyone who might be affected and then only rarely by those who have been affect. David Millar accepted his fate and knew he would never be able to pull on an Olympic vest again. Millar, the cyclist, was far more voluntarily forthright about drugs than Chambers was who almost at the last minute helped with further enquiries when he saw it as a a way to possibly sway a judgement in his favour.
Edwards on the other hand argued the case for a redemptive second chance, but only with a condition that the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and the other international bodies came down harder themselves of offenders. He argued for a 4 or 5 year initial ban, which as he pointed out would act as far more of a deterrent than the current 2. It would show that the world of sport really wanted to get clean. Then after that period if the athlete still wanted to compete, and was still good enough to qualify there should be nothing in their way to prevent it.
Despite all the drugs-free toil I went through I would have to agree with Edwards. A longer initial ban would act as an initial deterrent. It would also make it harder for someone caught cheating to maintain their level of fitness for the period of the ban to get back. They really would have to be determined to come out fighting. However, it would give a chance for the truly repentant people like David Millar to have a chance to make amends, I can see him still racing in 2012 and possibly up for being part of the GB team in London. He is an example of user turned advocate against in the best sense, I'd rather see Millar given a second chance than the chancer Chambers.