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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 February, 2004, 16:17 GMT
Chambers ban 'inevitable'
Dwain Chambers competes at last year's World Athletics Championships
Lord Coe believes the two-year ban handed out to British sprinter Dwain Chambers was "inevitable."

And the former Olympic champion hopes the decision will provide the right message to athletes who contemplate using performance-enhancing substances.

"It is crushing for Dwain that he is such a high-profile casualty in the war against drug abuse, but it was pretty predictable," said Coe.

"If strict liability is to mean just that then the decision was inevitable."

Coe believes Chambers may be the victim of advice given to him by his coaching staff, but maintains the ban is still the correct decision.

To come back after two years will be very difficult
Roger Black
"Many people feel Dwain may actually be more guilty in the judgement of his back-room team than anything else," Coe told BBC Radio Five Live.

"But we do have to get the message across that an athlete will be tried on his own once an alien substance is found in his system."

Former Olympic 400m silver medallist Roger Black also had some sympathy for Chambers.

"It is a bad day for the whole of the sport and British athletics in particular, and a terrible day for Dwain Chambers," Black told the BBC.

"But these cases are always more complicated than they seem. I personally feel that if people are guilty of taking drugs they should be banned for life but there is always that grey area.

Linford Christie, nandrolone, two years
Janine Whitlock, dianabol, two years
Paul Edwards, steroids, life
Perriss Wilkins, steroids, four years
"Very few people - with the exception of Ben Johnson - actually come out and say, 'Yes, I did take drugs'.

"You have to feel for Dwain. He may have been guilty of naivety and stupidity, but whether he is wilfully guilty of taking drugs only he will know."

Black questioned whether Chambers will find the physical and mental strength to make a comeback, given the additional blow of a lifetime Olympic ban.

"Mentally, to come back after two years will be very difficult, with people looking you in the eye as a drug cheat," Black said.

I think this will send the right message to people in the sport
Jason Gardener
"And the Olympics is everything for an athlete. To know you can't compete in an Olympic Games could take you out of the sport."

Fellow British sprinter Jason Gardener believes Chambers, 25, could still return to athletics.

"I think he is still young enough to come back in two years' time, even if he will never compete at an Olympic Games," Gardener told BBC Radio Five Live.

"The Olympics is what everyone aspires to but the rules are rules and I think this will send the right message to people in the sport."

Despite the devastating blow to Chambers' own career, Black believes the case may have positive long-term implications.

"It is a terrible day for athletics in some respects but it may actually be a good day because the sport is cleaning its act up," Black added.

"If it doesn't do that, we will have a sport no-one will want to watch."

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