• London Olympics 2012

Moynihan slams 'toothless' doping policy

ESPN staff
November 15, 2011
Colin Moynihan insists the BOA lifetime ban for drugs cheats must stand © Getty Images

The head of the British Olympic Association has launched a scathing attack on a "toothless" approach towards anti-doping that permits convicted drugs cheats to compete at London 2012.

While American LaShawn Merritt is able to run in next year's Games after a successful appeal against his ban, BOA chairman Colin Moynihan insists the BOA lifetime Olympic ban should stand.

"We now have a situation where drugs cheats will be able to compete in London 2012," Moynihan said. "We must decide: is the outcome we want a watered-down, increasingly toothless gesture towards zero tolerance?"

Merritt, the 400m Olympic champion, was banned from competing at London 2012 by the International Olympic Committee after testing positive for a banned steroid in early 2010 - resulting in a 21-month ban from competition. Rule 45 of the Olympic Charter, otherwise known as the "Osaka" rule, prevents any athlete banned for more than six months for a doping offence from competing at the next Olympics.

But Merritt's recent success at the Court of Arbitration for Sport has put pressure on the BOA to relax its policy, which would open the door for Dwain Chambers to compete for Team GB.

Chambers competed at the World Championships in South Korea in the summer, but is serving a lifetime ban under a BOA byelaw which prevents any athlete who serves a six month ban for doping offences from competing for Britain in the Olympics.

"Much has been made of the fact that there is no room for redemption in the BOA's lifetime ban," Moynihan said "It is argued that Olympic values should include the indulgence of human frailty, forgiveness and redemption and that the mark of a true justice system is the prospect of reform and redemption that it offers.

"These are important values and society as a whole is defined and enhanced by our recognition and adoption of them. To err, after all, is human. However, I believe we need to ask where is the redemption for the clean athlete denied selection by a competitor who has knowingly cheated?

"What is worse the cheat, possibly with a lifelong benefit of a course of growth hormones and other drugs, is back again. Under the current WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] Code, if he times his two-year ban correctly he is ready to deny another clean athlete selection for the following Olympic Games.

"So now is a time for change, now is a time for informed review, and now is a time to refocus on our drive to identify those who knowingly cheat their fellow competitors."

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