By Daniel Gandert
This year, London is preparing to be the first city to host the Olympic Games three times. While there has been news about the various preparations taking place for the games, one story that has made the British headlines is the question of whether Dwain Chambers and other British athletes with past doping offenses will be eligible to participate. A British Olympic Association (BOA) bylaw prohibits any athlete with a past doping offense from representing Britain in the Olympics for life.
Dwain Chambers, a sprinter, established himself as the fastest European at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. He became involved with the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO) scandal, which is perhaps the biggest doping scandal in the history of sports. In this scandal, the BALCO laboratory provided prohibited substances to many elite athletes in both track and field and U.S. professional baseball. As part of the scandal, Chambers consumed the steroid Tetrahydrogestrinone (THG) and upon getting caught, was suspended from competing in athletics for two years. This triggered the BOA’s Bylaw 25, which prohibits athletes with doping offenses from competing for Britain in the Olympics for life. Chambers admitted to using prohibited substances, came back to the track world, and ended up running faster than he did while he was doping. Nonetheless, because of the Bylaw, Chambers is prohibited from representing Britain at the Olympics again even though athletes from other countries who have completed their doping suspension will have no legal obstacle preventing them from competing in this summer’s games. The Court of Arbitration for Sport held a hearing regarding the validity of this rule on March 12th, with a decision to be released in early April.