Chambers makes a mockery of a wonderful sport
“I was just glad to be a part of it. It’s been a struggle to get here, you can’t win them all and I did the best I could.”
So said Dwain Chambers, just minutes after being beaten into fifth place in a razor-close finish to the European Championships 100 metres final on Wednesday night.
In truth, it was a disappointing run from Chambers, who was expected to claim no less than silver in his duel with flying French phenom Christophe Lemaitre.
Call it poetic justice. Because the self-confessed drugs cheat shouldn’t have been running at all.
I bear Chambers no ill will or malice, in fact he seems a pretty nice chap. But when he tested positive for the designer steroid THG back in 2003, his athletics career should have been over. For good.
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Instead, he got the standard two-year ban and was allowed to return to the track.
He’s rightly banned from the Olympics for life, though perversely can still run in other major championships like those currently in full swing in Barcelona.
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It saddens me to see such a mockery made of a wonderful sport. It is a sham for which the powers that be should hang their heads.
But am I right? I hope you’re debating the issue as you read this, and please feel free to let me know what you think via the contact details at the end of this scribble.
Indeed, I’ve grappled with it for a while - allow me to share my working out.
You may argue that people should be allowed to make mistakes. It’s not what you do, it’s how you recover from it and all that.
Generally speaking, I’d agree. Redemption is a concept largely scoffed at in today’s society, yet I’d like to think that, at our core, we still believe in second chances.
Chambers didn’t hurt anyone, after all. He only took a few drugs - enough for him to call himself a ‘walking junkie’ - but he hardly committed a heinous crime.
And he’s repented. As he told the Sun back in 2008: “A terrible stigma has been attached to me but people need to know I am clean.
“Yes, I did something wrong. I did the crime - but I’ve done my time and now I’ve moved on.”
Given that he’s still our best sprinter and sorry for what he did, shouldn’t we forgive and forget?
Forgive yes, forget no. Taking drugs is as bad as it gets in sport, especially athletics, and there must be a zero tolerance policy enforced.
Take drugs, get caught and you’re done. For ever. As one of my Twitter chums responded when I posed the question about Chambers, “athletics needs to be ruthless.”
Crucially, Chambers - and others of his drug-fuelled ilk - have wrecked the perception of their sport.
Although sport really does not matter in the grand scheme of things, it matters to us, the fans - as long as we can believe that it’s real, that what we see is true.
But how can we care about it if we think everyone’s cheating anyway?
Chambers has helped to destroy the credibility of athletics. If we continue to allow him and others who cheat back on the track, it will never be repaired.
- What do you think? Let me know on Twitter at mark__heath or on e-mail at email@example.com.