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And so the row over Dwain Chambers, doping and athletics goes on. From a general sporting perspective, this is an easy one. We all agree. If we are to compare and reward physical prowess and skill, then all things must be equal. A level playing field so to speak.
What makes all of this interesting is Dwain’s public claim that it is almost impossible to win a major medal in athletics without the use of artificial stimulation. And he of all people must know the contents of this dirty can of worms. He failed a test for tetrahydrogestrinone, the Balco designer steroid in 2003 and was given a two-year suspension. Having served his time, he returned in 2006 as a member of the British sprint squad, taking relay gold in the European Championships.
And that leaves us with way too many questions… who isn’t doping? Is anyone clean? Can we trust the results? Is it real? How do we stop it happening?
One can argue that Dwain has paid his dues for past misdemeanours… he should be allowed to go on. After all, the social trend is to forgive those in the public eye for their ill-judged transgressions. However, this is a very different arena. His body is the basis of his success and it’s cheating. Plain and simple. One can liken it to putting rocket fuel in a formula one car, if that were possible. It’s just plain wrong. Do we celebrate the efficacy and wonders of the drugs, or the performance of the athlete?
And I wonder if this brand will be able to recover. So damaged in 2003, will he now fight in the name of ‘lessons learned’ and can we forgive and forget? After all, it seems that his playing field is not at all level and we may well ask if he is being vilified, persecuted in the name of all those who as yet remain undiscovered.