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British Court Upholds Ban on Olympic Hopeful


A British court has refused to overturn the ban on British sprinter and Olympic hopeful Dwain Chambers. Chambers had challenged a law which bars any athlete from representing Britain in the Olympic games if they are found guilty of doping. From London, Tendai Maphosa has the details.

Dwain Chambers qualified on the track when he came in first in the 100 meters at the British Olympic trials earlier this month but he still had another hurdle to clear: the courts.

Because of a two-year ban for testing positive for a banned steroid in 2003, Chambers' qualification was not automatic. The British Olympic Association has a rule that imposes a lifetime ban for drug use.

Chambers argued he had been punished and that the lifetime ban was a unfair.

But a High Court judge refused to temporarily suspend the lifetime ban before a full hearing can be held in March of next year saying Chambers' right to work was not a good enough reason to overturn the ban.

The judge also said Chambers' delay in bringing his case before the courts did not help him. British selectors have to name their final squad for next month's Games in Beijing by Sunday at the very latest.

British Olympic Association chairman Colin Moynihan defended the lifetime ban saying it has been in place for 16 years and is recognized and understood by all Olympic athletes.

"It's a matter of regret that Dwain Chambers, an athlete with such undoubted talent and a winner of the European Youth Olympic festival 100 meters as a young man, should by his own actions put himself out of the running to shine on the Olympic stage in Beijing," Moynihan said, "however on behalf of the athletes, the BOA will continue to send a powerful and important message that nobody found guilty of serious drug cheating offenses should have the honor of wearing team GB vests at the Olympic games."

Chambers left the court without making a comment. After his positive test he was stripped of the 100 meter gold medal he won at the European Championship in 2002. The gold medal he and his 4x100 meters relay teammates won was also taken away.

He has also had unsuccessful attempts at American football and rugby but it's on the track that he has excelled. The Olympic ban will not affect his participation in sponsored competitions but because of his drug taking history, some organizers have said they would not invite him.

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