Dwain Chambers’ controversial and protracted fight to be allowed to run at this summer’s Beijing Olympics will finally be settled today when a High Court judge announces his verdict on the sprinter’s legal challenge to a lifetime ban.
Chambers had expected to learn his fate yesterday, when the 100m runner attended court to hear his barrister ask for an injunction against the British Olympic Association’s absolute ban on doping offenders.
But Mr Justice Mackay delayed his ruling by a further 24 hours, ensuring Great Britain’s sprinting line-up remained up in the air just 72 hours before final teams must be submitted to Olympic chiefs on Sunday.
Chambers’ barrister Jonathan Crystal argued that the 30-year-old, who served a two-year ban for using the steroid THG and has admitted taking other banned substances, was being impeded by an unfair restraint of trade.
The BOA is virtually unique in banning for life athletes found guilty of a serious doping offence – a stance that Mr Crystal said “denies rehabilitation”.
“There would be no restriction to his selection for any other nation, save possibly Denmark and China,” he added. David Pannick QC, representing the BOA, said they were entitled to judge who was suitable to represent the country. “It is for us to decide,” he said. “This is not a matter that we should somehow have to delegate out to other countries and follow their view.”
Mr Pannick also argued that Chambers’ trade was not being significantly affected since no prize money was at stake at the Olympics. Mr Crystal argued that the Games may not bring direct earnings but would provide Chambers with “the springboard for further and better opportunities”.