Play by the rules de Vos!

February 12, 2008

UK Athletics chief executive Niels de Vos is desperate to keep drug-cheat sprinter Dwain Chambers out of the Great Britain team for the World Indoor Championships to be held in Valencia in March.

Chambers is already ruled out of the Beijing Olympics because he has picked up a lifetime ban from the British Olympic Association, but has completed his 2-year suspension from UK athletics and his 60m time at last weekend’s trials for the Valencia event entitles him to automatic qualification.

Neils de Vos

I sympathise entirely with de Vos’s repugnance at the thought of including a drugs cheat in the British team for Valencia. The only thing more repugnant is the arrogance of an athletics supremo who seeks to impose ex-gratia bans at his personal whim.

Rules is rules. If you don’t like them, do your best to change them. But people in positions of responsibility should not be riding rough-shod over them.

Chambers was guilty of an offence, handed down a punishment and served it. He has not been caught committing any further offences so there is no justification for a further punishment. De Vos may happen to think the original 2 year ban was too lenient, and many would agree with him, but that is irrelevant. It is not his call. The ban imposed was the ban imposed, and it is too late to go back and change it.

Listen up, de Vos. Abiding by the rules is central to fairness in all sports. That applies to disciplinary matters just as much as it does to competition. Under the rules, Chambers is eligible to compete and has met the qualifying requirements. Your vendetta against Chambers brings into question your own respect for the rules that govern sport, and undermines your authority.

Let it go. Bite your lip and let Chambers compete, while he stays clean, until his standards drop. Meantime if you want to push for tougher sentences against future drug offences I and millions of others really couldn’t argue with you.

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