Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

watch listen BBC Sport BBC Sport
Low graphics|Help
---------------
CHOOSE A SPORT
RELATED BBC SITES
Last Updated: Thursday, 28 February 2008, 17:34 GMT
Balco star urges Chambers to sue
By Matt Slater

Chryste Gaines and Dwain Chambers
Gaines says she and Chambers have been 'thrown to the wolves'
A leading US sprinter who has returned from a ban only to be frozen out by the sport is threatening legal action and suggests Dwain Chambers does the same.

Chryste Gaines, another Balco athlete, has been eligible to compete since June but has been unable to get races.

"We're being prevented from making an income. It's against the law in the US - I don't know about British law - and they know it," Gaines told BBC Sport.

"They know how I am and they know what I will do, and that's file a law suit."

The Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or Balco, was a US company based in California that initially specialised in food supplements but would become far more famous for its sideline in performance-enhancing drugs.

All our meetings are invitational, so we can invite whoever we want

Wilfried Meert
Brussels Golden League

The 37-year-old Gaines, who was banned alongside Tim Montgomery in 2005, has become increasingly frustrated since her return from ineligibility.

And she has emailed US promoters and the IAAF - world athletics' governing body - to ask why she is no longer invited to meetings.

It is a situation that Chambers, who has caused considerable controversy since his second comeback from a two-year ban, also faces.

"It's very difficult," said Gaines, who has received no response to her emails.

"I can only imagine what Dwain is going through, because it's difficult when that's your living - and you sat out your time - and they're going to take that away from you.

"What else are you supposed to do? You do what they ask you to do. You sat out. Now they want to prevent you from coming back, which is against their own rules."

Marion Jones, Kelli White, Chryste Gaines and Inger Miller in 2001
Only Inger Miller (right) from this 2001 US quartet has escaped a ban

Both Chambers and Gaines served the maximum sentences available at the time and should, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency's (Wada) regulations, now be free to continue their careers.

But scandals like Balco, which has accounted for some of the biggest names in athletics and baseball, have seriously hit the sport's credibility and popularity.

As a result, Wada's maximum ban for drugs cheats will increase to four years from 2009.

Gaines, however, claims Balco athletes are already being given what amount to lifetime bans.

"Because we were affiliated with Balco we have this whole different stigma attached to us," she said.

"We're being treated differently. We're asked to serve a lifetime ban."

Gaines, who won 4x100m gold medals at the Atlanta Olympics and 1995 and 1997 World Championships, blames the IAAF for not forcing the promoters of meetings to comply with the rules.

But a spokesman for the governing body told BBC Sport it was up to the promoters to invite whoever they want to their meetings.

606: DEBATE
Wire1979

"They are independent of the IAAF and it is completely at their discretion as to who they invite," he said.

"They are sending a strong message which should be supported. But it must be applied evenly to all athletes and they are the ones who must make sure it is legally defendable."

Wilfried Meert, the vice-president of a body that represents the promoters of 51 European track meetings, said no athletes with doping convictions would ever be invited to compete again.

"All our meetings are invitational, so we can invite whoever we want," Meert, who promotes Brussels' Golden League event, told BBC Sport.

"We have no obligation at all to send invitations out to particular athletes. That's why we can say we are no longer going to invite people who have been banned for drugs.

The sporting governing bodies once more are opening up themselves to legal battles that they know they cannot win

Dr Gregory Ioannidis
Katerina Thanou's lawyer

"Take the 100m, in which both Chambers and Gaines are involved.

"Most venues have eight lanes. Every year I have about 20 candidates that want to fill these lanes, so already we have to make a selection.

"Nobody who has not been given a lane has ever gone to court before - it's an invitational event and the organiser pays the bills, so it's only up to them to decide who they are going to invite to their meet."

Meert added that Chambers, who unlike Gaines is also banned from representing his country at the Olympics, would never be invited to compete in a Golden League meeting again.

This hard-line stance, however, is almost bound to attract a legal challenge.

Dr Gregory Ioannidis, a lecturer in sports law at University of Buckingham who also represents Katerina Thanou, told BBC Sport his client was experiencing the same difficulties as Chambers and Gaines.

Thanou was one of the two Greek sprinters famously banned for missing three drugs tests prior to the 2004 Olympics.

Dwain Chambers
Chambers looks certain to need legal help to continue his career

Ioannidis believes the decision to bar an athlete, who has returned from a period of ineligibility, from competing in national or international competitions cannot be legally justified.

"It is unreasonable and it sends the wrong message to society," Ioannidis said.

"It certainly does not strike a balance between the protection of sport and the protection of the individual.

"It is like saying to all employers that when a prisoner has served his time, the prisoner should not be employed ever again.

"The sporting governing bodies once more are opening up themselves to legal battles that they know they cannot win.

"In the long term, the real losers would be the sport and the fans."

The British Olympic Association, however, is confident that its 1992 bye-law, which prevents a banned athlete from ever competing for Britain at an Olympics, will stand up in court and remains committed to "vigorously" defending it against any challenge.



SEE ALSO
UK Athletics faces Chambers flak
28 Feb 08 |  Athletics
Chambers delays Olympics appeal
19 Feb 08 |  Athletics
Athletics chief wants longer bans
19 Feb 08 |  Athletics
Chambers set to face track snub
14 Feb 08 |  Athletics
What they say about Chambers
13 Feb 08 |  Athletics
Chambers row sparks rules rethink
08 Feb 08 |  Athletics
Thanou wins on sprinting return
03 Feb 07 |  Athletics
Balco boss released from prison
30 Mar 06 |  Athletics
Montgomery hit with two-year ban
13 Dec 05 |  Athletics
White admits to Balco drugs link
03 Dec 04 |  Athletics
The THG scandal explained
24 Feb 04 |  Athletics
Chambers gets two-year ban
24 Feb 04 |  Athletics


RELATED BBC LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

BBC PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Daily and weekly e-mails | Mobiles | Desktop Tools | News Feeds | Interactive Television | Downloads
Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability sport | Olympics 2012 | Sport Relief | Other sport...

Help | Privacy & Cookies Policy | News sources | About the BBC | Contact us