Moynihan, sports minister under Margaret Thatcher (it was little Colin who would bleat endlessly on about his pet project of an ID card for travelling football fans back in the day), was addressing a meeting of international sports bigwigs in Lausanne last week. “Doping in sport is wrong and in contravention of the values of the Olympic movement,” he stated, before referring to a new “dark age” of cheating in athletics.
Nothing massively controversial about that particular statement, surely? However, lifetime bans for athletes found guilty of breaking international doping regulations are unique to the BOA. No other country in the sporting world takes such a hard line. The Association spend a lot of time and money in its ongoing attempts to rid British athletics of doping cheats (the Telegraph claimed this week that the Association spends £8 million of public money each year).
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has challenged the BOA’s position, with the Agency president John Fahey describing to Moynihan’s comments as “misinformed and inaccurate”. Generally, WADA bans rarely go beyond a two-year stint. On Sunday night, the Agency declared that the Brits were out of step with the rest of the world and that their insistence on lifetime bans was null and void when it came to the Olympic stage.
The BOA is now taking the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to make their claim for tightening up the current rulings. The BOA claim that they have the full backing of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which is looking to exclude athletes serving a six-month or longer ban from taking part at London 2012 but, for the moment at least, the WADA has had the final word (The case won’t actually be heard until well into the New Year).
In the meantime, Dwain Chambers, the 100 metre sprinter who was banned for using steroids back in 2003, is hoping for a reprieve that will allow him to compete next summer. Moynihan isn’t happy, but it’s looking increasingly likely that he’ll find himself out-voted when Chambers’ case is put to the board.
And there, of course, is the rub. Chambers is the UK’s best sprinter over 100 metres and could well be an outside chance for a medal. Chambers (and other athletes, including the shot-putter Carl Myerscough and cyclist David Millar) will be basing his appeal on the recent CAS decision to overrule a similar ban on US athlete LaShawn Merritt, initially imposed by the IOC.
It’s highly likely that Moynihan and the BOA will fail with their appeal. Which means somewhere out there an athlete is working their arse off, dreaming of appearing in their home Olympics tournament next summer, only to be told possibly weeks before the opening ceremony that they’re being bumped off the team to make way for a cheat. Which surely can’t be right.
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