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Last Updated: Monday, 28 May 2007, 05:58 GMT 06:58 UK
Pinsent on Chambers

By Matthew Pinsent
BBC Sport reporter and four-time Olympic rowing gold medallist

Dwain Chambers
Chambers has a narrow opportunity to make it to the NFL
I have to say I wasn't looking forward to interviewing Dwain Chambers - I shared an Olympic Village with him and found him, along with the majority of the sprinters, aloof and hard to read.

I was surprised that Chambers had agreed to be filmed by Inside Sport - his honesty about taking performance-enhancing drugs in a previous BBC interview had ended up costing him and his relay team-mates their 2002 European Championship medals.

It is not even as if you can say Britain's former top 100m runner splits people into love him or hate him camps.

Not many people are willing to profess love for a disgraced sprinter who dragged himself and his sport into a doping crisis that blighted British athletics for several years.

But Chambers defied all my expectations when I went to Germany to follow his preparations for the latest match of his NFL Europa team Hamburg Sea Devils.

Formerly one of the world's leading sprinters, Chambers turned to American Football after testing positive for the steroid THG (tetrahydrogestrinone) in 2003.

1995 European Juniors: 100m and sprint relay gold
1997 European Juniors: new world record
2001 second ever Briton to run 100m under 10 seconds
2006 European Championships: 4x100m relay gold
2007 Joins Hamburg Sea Devils
During his two-year suspension from athletics, he did very few interviews and trod a delicate line between admitting he cheated and professing his innocence.

In the end it made little difference, as the athletics world, the press and the authorities soon came to the conclusion that he had deliberately cheated.

Even on his return there was a degree of comment both public and private about whether he should be allowed back, and it all came to a very public head at the European Championships in 2006 in Gothenburg.

Winning the sprint relay, with Chambers in the team, was the high point of the event for the British, but it was clouded in controversy when Darren Campbell refused to run a victory lap with his team-mates.

Campbell believed Chambers, as a convicted drug cheat, should not have been picked, a view that was hardened by his being forced to give up two medals as a result of Chambers' conviction.

Given the difficult subject, I was not expecting much in the way of retrospective when we took Chambers out into Hamburg to film 24 hours before a Sea Devils game.

I didn't think I'd get caught
Dwain Chambers
But out of the blue we started talking about being recognised in the street and he mentioned how "people call me a name of a person I don't like".

Intrigued, I pressed him by offering options. "Linford [Christie]?" "No." "Darren?" "Yes."

It opened up a whole discussion about how he felt that Campbell exposed him and made the team look stupid by not running the victory lap in Gothenburg.

I was astounded that it had not been settled. But the reply was forthright: "No and it never will be".

Relationships like that can't have helped the relay team.

Later, back in the hotel, we talked about how the decision to take THG had come about and he simply answered, "I didn't think I'd get caught," an answer so simple that I was amazed he hadn't admitted it before on television, but he hasn't.

Darren Campbell and Dwain Chambers on the podium after winning the 100m relay at the European Championships
Campbell did not hide his distaste for Chambers in Gothenburg
We went on to why he chose American football and what he has to improve on to get his game into shape for a chance at the NFL.

Even his present coach admitted that has to improve his catching and Chambers spends hours each day bouncing a ball against the wall, a la Steve McQueen in The Great Escape.

The reality is that he, like almost everyone in the league in Europe, stands only a slim chance of being picked for the big time in the US.

With a tide of college hopefuls all having lived and breathed the game for years pouring into the professional ranks his window may be very narrow indeed.

I left Hamburg with an uncomfortable mix of righteous indignation at his past, confusion over his team dynamics within sprinting and a touch of jealousy of what just could be his future.

Watch Matthew Pinsent's report on Inside Sport, Monday 28 May, 2305 BST



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