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Page last updated at 15:11 GMT, Thursday, 12 March 2009

Berlin panned for Chambers invite

By Matt Slater

Dwain Chambers
Chambers' recent form makes him a tempting prospect for race promoters

Organisers of the Berlin Golden League event have been accused of jeopardising the sport's future by saying they might invite Dwain Chambers to their meeting.

Euromeetings, a body that represents 53 leading events, voted in 2007 to bar athletes who had served drugs bans.

Berlin's decision to break this "gentlemen's agreement" has been roundly criticised by other promoters.

"Berlin stages the event as a business and does not care about the sport," said Euromeetings boss Rajne Soderberg.

"Their actions don't surprise me as they never take part in our meetings.

"As for the other 'gentlemen' the agreement stays firm - we will not invite athletes who can in any way bring our sport into disrepute."

Soderberg's comments will come as a blow to Chambers, who had been hoping that Berlin's move could spark the end of the Euromeetings lock-out, particularly as Berlin is the first event on the lucrative Golden League calendar.

The 30-year-old sprinter has been largely frozen out of the sport since returning from a two-year drugs ban in 2005, and as a result has found it almost impossible to repay the money he earned whilst taking illegal performance-enhancing substances in 2002 and 2003.

Chambers has served a two-year drugs ban and after this he has not been found guilty of anything

Gerhard Janetzky
Berlin Golden League director

But Chambers has made the most of the few opportunities he has been given.

Last year, having returned to the sport after an unsuccessful attempt to make a career in American football, he claimed a silver medal in the 60m at the World Indoors.

Later that year, despite a brief flirtation with rugby league and hardly any competitive racing, Chambers won the 100m at the British Olympic trials - a victory that came to naught as he then failed to lift his lifetime Olympic ban in the courts.

But this season Chambers has performed even better, dominating the European indoor season. This was underlined when he won 60m gold at the European Indoors last week, an event that saw him claim the British record in a time that ranks third on the all-time world list.

Given his performances and undoubted box-office appeal, it is hardly surprising that cracks have started to appear in the hard-line stance that athletics promoters have adopted.

Even last year there were indications that the agreement was not as solid as Soderberg suggests.

Berlin's Golden League meeting
A return to Europe's top events, like Berlin on 14 June, is key for Chambers

Ukrainian heptathlete Lyudmila Blonska, who has since been thrown out of the sport for a second positive test, was invited to an event in Austria, while American sprinter Torri Edwards also appeared in Europe despite previously being given a two-year ban.

Soderberg, however, said the Blonska situation was a one-off resulting from a pre-existing contract and Edwards' ban was later reduced by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).

Berlin's director Gerhard Janetzky believes the sport is singling out Chambers in order to make an example of him.

"I have no problem with excluding athletes (who fail drugs tests) for two years but there are a couple of others who meet the same criteria as Chambers and they are competing with no problems," Janetzky told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"Last year I suggested that any athlete who has served a two-year ban should have a one-year cooling-off period.

"But after that, if they have complied with the rules, they should be able to compete again. Anything else would not be justice.

"Chambers has served a two-year ban and after this he has not been found guilty of anything."

Janetzky admitted his stance on Chambers was "probably in the minority" among promoters and accepted that the Briton remained a "controversial figure".

And that controversy, which was reignited when his new autobiography was serialised in the British press last week, shows no sign of dissipating.

The latest chapter in Chambers' tale looks set to be his ongoing relationship with Victor Conte, the man who supplied him with steroids.

Victor Conte
News that Balco kingpin Conte is still advising Chambers will concern many

Chambers has made no secret of his continued friendship with Conte, who served a four-month prison sentence for his role in the Balco doping scandal that is still reverberating throughout US sport, and has often talked about the nutritional advice he receives from the American.

But it has now been confirmed Chambers has also been using a high-tech breathing device that replicates altitude training under Conte's supervision.

The science behind the device is not new - the benefits of training in low-oxygen environments have been known for some time - but being able to do this with a relatively small machine, as opposed to a chamber, is; as is the application of this to a power-based event.

Conte, who alerted Chambers to the existence of the "AltoLab Altitude Simulator", said: "This is the future. Everyone used to think (simulated altitude training) was all about endurance athletes. No one thought of applying this to explosive sprinting."

And Chambers has said the new training regime enables him to work harder, for longer.

The device, and the science that underpins it, is not banned by sport, although the Wada did consider making it illegal two years ago before agreeing to allow it.

While there is no suggestion of any fresh wrongdoing on Chambers' part - or Conte's, for that matter - news of their work together will only fuel the anger of those who remain convinced the Londoner brings the sport into disrepute.

see also
Chambers welcome at Berlin event
10 Mar 09 |  Athletics
Chambers storms to gold in Turin
08 Mar 09 |  Athletics
Chambers defends book revelations
05 Mar 09 |  Athletics
Conte's prescription for success
16 May 08 |  Athletics
Chambers to deliver drugs dossier
15 May 08 |  Athletics
Chambers receives Berlin backing
11 Apr 08 |  Athletics
Conte lambasts athletics bosses
01 Mar 08 |  Athletics
Chambers set to face track snub
14 Feb 08 |  Athletics

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