Exclusive: Sprinter tells Frank Dalleres why dopers deserve a second chance
GOLD winning sprinter Marlon Devonish has delivered a blow to the British Olympic Association’s battle to uphold its lifetime ban for doping by insisting he does not mind competing alongside previous offenders at the London 2012 Games.
The BOA is under intense pressure to drop its controversial bye-law, which precludes athletes found guilty of a serious doping offence, such as sprinter Dwain Chambers and cyclist David Millar, from ever representing Team GB at an Olympics.
Key to the BOA’s argument is its claim that the life ban has the support of the vast majority of its athletes, but Devonish – who was stripped of a World Championship relay silver medal because of team-mate Chambers’ use of banned substances – yesterday cast doubt on that by adopting a far more forgiving stance.
“Our law needs to be consistent for all athletes across the board,” Devonish told City A.M. at yesterday’s National Lottery Class of 2012 event.
“Yes, I’ve lost medals under those circumstances, and I guess if they were the only medals I’d won I’d be extremely disappointed now, but that’s not my situation. I have many medals, I’ve moved on from it and I’m completely at peace with that.”
Asked whether he would be happy competing alongside previous offenders at London 2012, he added: “Yeah. If they test positive again, they’re banned for life. I believe in a second chance.”
The World Anti Doping Agency has declared the BOA’s unique stance “non-compliant”, while its former head, Dick Pound, this week labelled the approach “rogue”.
BOA chiefs are expected to take their case to the Court of Arbitration Sport in a bid to obtain a conclusive independent ruling on the festering row.
It was CAS that weakened the BOA’s grip in October, however, when it decreed that a similar rule imposed by the International Olympic Committee was unenforceable.
Devonish, who won 4x100 gold at the 2004 Athens Games and hopes to compete in the 200m as well next summer in London, said he would not mind if the BOA scrapped its controversial rule.
He added: “Denmark, Norway, Canada and of course the UK had the bye-law, and the other three have dropped it. I have no problem at all with being consistent across the countries. It saves on unnecessary dramas.”
The BOA last month repeated its claim that the bye-law is “a clear expression of the will and commitment of British Olympic athletes”. Sprinter Christian Malcolm says he has not been consulted, while marathon world record holdfer Paula Radcliffe has called the rule “unfair”.
Over 1,200 elite British athletes benefit from National Lottery funding, supporting them for London 2012. Lottery players are also investing £2.2 billion in London 2012 venues, infrastructure and art and cultural events. Find out more at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk