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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 February 2008, 13:42 GMT
UK Athletics faces Chambers flak
By Matt Slater

Dwain Chambers
Chambers is back in a GB vest but only after a hugely damaging row
Athletics chiefs have brought the sport into disrepute by their mishandling of the Dwain Chambers affair, according to a former UK Athletics (UKA) official.

Chambers has been at the centre of a damaging row about the eligibility of athletes returning from drugs bans.

But Mike Winch, who was the UK Members Council's vice president before he quit last week, told BBC Sport the governing body was guilty of "hypocrisy".

BBC Sport contacted UKA but it declined to comment on Winch's criticisms.

Earlier this month, British bosses were reluctantly forced to confirm the inclusion of Chambers, who completed a two-year ban for doping in 2005, in the team for the World Indoor Championships.

They brought the sport into disrepute by saying one thing and then, by their own rules, having to do another - that was very incompetent

Mike Winch
Former UKA vice-president

The embarrassing climb-down came after attempts to keep Chambers out of the trials, which he went on to win in emphatic style, and repeated statements that he would not be allowed to represent his country again.

This stance became untenable, however, when it emerged that Chambers had strong legal grounds on which to demand his place.

Winch believes the debate should never have got this far and blames the UKA hierarchy for heaping more negative attention on an already struggling sport.

"They should never have made any statement about his selection until they had actually examined what the situation was," said Winch, who was England's chief athletics coach at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Dwain Chambers
Despite only limited training, Chambers dominated the trials

"They brought the sport into disrepute by saying one thing and then, by their own rules, having to do another. That was very incompetent."

Winch added that UKA has already welcomed back other athletes who have served bans, most notably shot putter Carl Myerscough.

"There are other people in the team at the minute, Myerscough being an example, that have done things very similar if not identical," he said.

"The hypocrisy of that is ludicrous."

Winch also pointed out that UKA had been happy to select Chambers when he made his first comeback in 2006.

Chambers, the first athlete to be caught using the previously undetectable steroid THG, made a significant contribution to UKA's cause then as he helped the British team win their only gold at the 2006 European Championships in the 4x100m.

Clearly, much has changed since then. The sport has been badly hurt by a series of high-profile doping cases and television audiences in this country have been dwindling.

606: DEBATE
Wire1979

Chambers seems to have further blotted his copybook in UKA's eyes by walking away from athletics to pursue a career in American football, an avenue that was closed to him last summer when the National Football League pulled the plug on its European operations.

His sojourn in American football meant that Chambers was taken off UK Sport's drugs-testing register, although he was tested by NFL Europa and has been tested by the British authorities since his second return to athletics.

But perhaps the most significant damage to his relationship with the athletics establishment was done when he told BBC One's Inside Sport programme last May that a clean athlete would only beat a doped athlete if the doped athlete was "having a real bad day".

Winch acknowledges the harm done to athletics by doping - and admits that Chambers made "a terrible mistake" - but he believes the current system is not working and is adamant that Chambers can be part of the solution.

Darren Campbell and Dwain Chambers
Darren Campbell was an early critic of Chambers' return to the sport

"Dwain is one of our greatest athletes. He was a junior world record-holder but he then got onto the wrong path," said Winch.

"He's admitted his guilt. He made a mistake and it affected him and all the people around him.

"The key thing is to learn from that, to use it in a positive way for the sport. If you make him a pariah he will go and he will say what he thinks and it will make things worse.

"What we need to do is say, 'Dwain, we want you to educate the kids and say this was not the right way to go'.

"I think that would be a hugely positive way forward. I don't think we need to marginalise him."

The next chapter in the Chambers tale will come on 7 March in Valencia when he attempts to claim the world 60m title. A medal-winning performance there will almost definitely prompt a legal challenge to the British Olympic Association's lifetime ban for athletes with doping convictions.



SEE ALSO
Balco star urges Chambers to sue
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
GB name Chambers in Worlds squad
12 Feb 08 |  Athletics
Chambers row sparks rules rethink
08 Feb 08 |  Athletics
Chambers blocked from GB trials
26 Jan 08 |  Athletics
Injury ends Chambers' NFL season
01 Jun 07 |  American Football
Disgraced Chambers in drugs claim
28 May 07 |  Athletics
Chambers harbours athletics dream
15 Jan 07 |  Athletics
Campbell row clouds GB relay gold
13 Aug 06 |  Athletics
Chambers forced to repay winnings
26 May 06 |  Athletics
I was in gutter, admits Chambers
10 Dec 05 |  Athletics
Chambers gets two-year ban
24 Feb 04 |  Athletics


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