Some thoughts on Dwayne Chambers


It is Monday, February 18th, and my brain has finally landed in Fort Atkinson, WI after my whirlwind tour of Birmingham for the Norwich Union Grand Prix Birmingham. You will see my review of the meet on Wednesday, February 20th, as I am approving a few magazines on my three days in the office. I finished this at 30,000 feet above the Atlantic on my way home from Birmingham.

For more on Dwayne Chambers, please find the weekend column in by Pat Butcher, it was very well done. The following is my interpretation of the whole situation:

Norwich Union Grand Prix

February 16, 2008

I just got in Friday, about twenty four hours ago. As I sat down in the lobby of the City inn to check my email, I noticed the Spanish distance runners all heading out for the jog along the canal path.

Saturday morning was a tough one. I tried to get up about nine in the morning, but my body said, "Nyet.", and that was it. I somehow crawled out about eleven in the morning, found some espresso and soaked it in.

My first thought was to slather my head with espresso, but it would have looked a bit strange, even for Birmingham, and the security folks at the Nai Stadium would probably have not let me in.

I did the more prudent thing, and ordered a second espresso, plus my tomato juice, read the paper and was taken by an article by frequent rbr contributor Pat Butcher. Pat had written a piece for the Weekend Financial Times on Dwayne Chambers, the British sprinter who has caused all of the furor in the UK.

Dwayne tested positive in the early BALCO days, took his two year ban, but also, was so exceedingly honest about his use and his comments that others could not
make the big time without drug use was not taken in a positive manner. In 2006, Chambers ran on the British 4 x 100 meter relay team and helped them win the gold at the European Championships. Then, Dwayne put away his track spikes for American football spikes-he had dreamed of playing professional American football. In 2008, realizing that he would not make it there, Dwayne started training and racing and won the UK Trials for Valencia, Spain and the World Indoor Champoionships, March 7-9.

Uk athletics new leader Niels de Vos has been in the middle of a firestorm over his less than politic comments on Chambers. He was first quotes as saying that Mr. Chambers was not welcome on the team. Then, the British Olympic committee,which had already ruled that anyone with a two year ban could not participate on their team. It should be noted that only two countries of the 2009 in the IAAF have supported this rule.

No less than Dick Pound, former head of WADA, the global anti drug organization, believes that Chambers should mount an appeal and he could be reinstated to make the 2008 Olympic team.

So, much like the US and the Marion Jones furor, some very cheap shots and ill informed cheap shots against athletics have been in the papers. The sad thing is that Dwayne Chambers was not invited to run in the Norwich Union Grand Prix Birmingham meeting. As Fast Track works for UK athletics, Mr. Chambers did not get an invite to race and hence he spent his time in the newspapers and not on the track.

The point that this has made is that, where do we start enforcing the new rules? 50 European track meets ahd the World Majors marathons will begin enforcing no convicted drug cheats in their events. The agents organization has agreed, as of last Fall, to not represent any drug cheats who have received two year bans. The IAAF and European Athletic Associations are suggesting a four year ban for first drug offense, as a deterent in future.

And with the advent of gene cloning, officials are suggesting that athletes will be given a card to compete provided that their blood is taken, their traits mapped and constant checks over their career on changes.

Where does science end, and common sense begin? Why is it that some athletes and human beings would never, ever consider even taking an aspirin for athletic benefit, but others will push the legal limits and not so legal limits?

Drug testing and blood checking is a poor excuse for having standards of behaviour. If those standards are broken, then there must be consequences. But the standards must be announced, a reasonable date for the beginning of them and the notion of killing the messenger is just unpalatable.

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