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Should Dwain Chambers and Other Drug Cheats Be Allowed to Compete in the London 2012 Olympic Games?

By Periscope @periscopepost
Dwain Chambers can compete at London 2012 if he qualifies

Sprinter Dwain Chambers at a book signing. Photo credit: J.Baker

Britain’s former drugs cheats, including sprinter Dwain Chambers, can compete at London 2012 after a court overturned the British Olympic Association’s policy of lifetime bans. On Monday, the BOA lost its battle with the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas). The BOA had been locked into a lengthy legal battle with Wada over what it said was its right to continue imposing lifetime Olympic bans on British athletes, even after they had served suspensions, noted the BBC.

The ruling does not mean Chambers, 34, and cyclist David Millar, 35, are necessarily in Team GB but it means they can try to qualify for the team and must be included if they make the grade.

The decision has divided opinion – some feel it is right to offer reformed drugs cheats a chance to restore their reputation, while other insist the Olympics should not include any competitors who have cheated in the past, even if they have served their bans.

Drug cheats should be banned from the Olympics for life. An editorial in The Independent argued that we are “too soft on drugs in sport. From all the back and forth, the challenges and the appeals, one could be forgiven for thinking that the issue of drugs in sport is a complex one. It is not. It is very simple. An athlete who takes a prohibited substance is cheating and should not be allowed to compete again.” With this in mind, the newspaper argued that the BOA “is to be applauded, then, for its efforts to ensure that drug-takers are banned for life from the UK team. Never mind that the BOA’s appeal against the World Anti-Doping Agency code was always going to fail, given last year’s decision on a less far-reaching case in the US. The fact is that Wada’s two-year ban is too light a penalty to deter those whose unscrupulousness matches their ambition, and the BOA was right to challenge it.”

“In purely moral terms, the case is clear. The assertion that all deserve a chance of rehabilitation is, in sport, a self-indulgent one: a ban on drug-takers is less about punishment than about protecting clean athletes, and sport as a whole, from the taint of corruption,” insisted The Independent in an editorial.

C’mon, athletes deserve a second chance. At The Daily Mail, David Thomas backed the Cas decision: “I’m delighted by the verdict. It’s the only fair, legal and above all moral decision the court could possibly have made. And it’s simply self-righteous nonsense to argue that the ban against the two men should have been allowed to stand … In any other crime, a guilty person pays the penalty as laid down by the court and then, in an ideal world learns their lesson, turns their life around and goes back to the straight and narrow. They get a second chance. So why is doping any different?” Thomas noted that, “drunk drivers get a second chance. Thieves get a second chance. Most murderers are released from prison without serving anything like a full life sentence. Why should athletes be an exception?”

Ignore the cheats, let’s celebrate clean athletes! At The Times, Matthew Syed said it’s time to “celebrate the athletes who stayed clean. One of the most annoying things about drugs scandals in sport is that we end up hearing rather a lot from the cheats. Dwain Chambers, David Millar, Ben Johnson and their ilk have conducted untold numbers of interviews, press conferences, and TV chats. Many have sold their memoirs too.” Syed lamented that, “this blanket coverage of the cheats” means “we hear very little from those who didn’t cheat. These are the athletes who, in case we forget, faced the same pressures, inhabited the same culture, and confronted the same dilemmas — but decided to do the right thing.” Syed concluded that “the essential tragedy of drug taking in sport is not just that the cheats, all too often, win the medals; it is that, even when they are caught, they get all the publicity and the lucrative memoirs, too.”

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