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Category: Dwain Chambers

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Dwain Chambers’ return to sprinting welcomed by Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake

• Chambers, banned for doping in 2004, comes out of retirement• Mitchell-Blake says 40-year-old’s return is good for the sportDwain Chambers’ shock decision to come out of retirement at the age of 40 to race at this weekend’s British Indoor Championshi…

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Greg Rutherford to lead Great Britain at European indoor championships

• Rutherford performs U-turn after PB in Birmingham
• Johnson-Thompson and Lake selected in pentathlon
• Kilty, Ujah and Safo-Antwi picked for 60m but no place for Chambers
• Farah breaks two-mile world record in Birmingham

The reigning Olympic long jump champion, Greg Rutherford, will lead a 39-strong Great Britain team at the European indoor championships in Prague next month.

Rutherford has reversed an earlier decision to skip the event after setting an indoor personal best of 8.17m in Birmingham last weekend. He is joined in the team by new British women’s long jump record holder, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who will compete in the pentathlon alongside the 17-year-old Morgan Lake.

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Commonwealth Games 2014: Dwain Chambers out of Englands sprint relay

Sprinter will focus on 100m at the European Championships Jess Tappin replaces injured heptathlete Johnson-Thompson Continue reading…

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Dwain Chambers wins a fifth straight British 100m crown at the age of 36

European Championships dilemma for selectors Beaten favourite Chijindu Ujah suffered from cramp After all the hype about the new wave of young British sprinting talent, trust Dwain Chambers to tear up the script and his opponents. The 36-year-old led …

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Great Britain win bronze and silver at World Relays

GB women second in 4x200m finalMen’s 4x100m run fastest time in 15 years Continue reading…

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Dwain Chambers has done more than enough to deserve forgiveness | Sean Ingle

Unlike other drug cheats, the British sprinter has said sorry, yet still is not accorded the same respect as other repentant athletes

A bronze medal had evaded Dwain Chambers by 0.01sec – half a stride, a blink of the eye – and disappointment was imprinted on his 35-year-old face as if by woodblock. Yet four times he gently redirected the conversation towards his team-mate Richard Kilty, the Teesside Tornado, who had kicked up a minor storm in Sopot by winning 60m gold at the world indoor championships.

And you, Dwain? “Ah, it wasn’t my day,” he said with a sigh, smiling and shrugging and opening his hands in that universal gesture of maybe-next-time. “The better man won.”

His good naturedness made you wonder – again – why Chambers is still considered surly and distant, the model of the charmless man, because of a foolish decision he made in his early twenties. Especially when your own eyes, and those of a great many others, tell you something different.

It is as if we cannot separate Chambers the cheat from Chambers the man who has spent the past decade trying to reconstruct his life. And that our deep-wired human instinct for forgiveness has blown a fuse. Even now, 11 years after testing positive for the designer steroid THG, and eight years after completing his two-year ban for doping, Chambers remains human hanky-snot for those who want dopers banned for life.

But there is no contradiction in believing that a two-year ban for serious doping offences is an insufficient deterrent, and admiring the way that Chambers has revived himself.

He knew the rules and he broke them, but he was punished under the anti-doping laws that existed in 2003. Whether that sentence was proportionate is not Chambers’ fault. He was a defendant, not a judge.

It is also worth comparing Chambers’ treatment with that of the cyclist David Millar. Their backgrounds are very different but their stories have a familiar outline: both were talented sportsmen who strayed down a path because they felt they needed to do so to compete. Both were caught. Both were punished. Both have written excellent memoirs. But only one has been forgiven.

Perhaps that is because Millar is seen as a victim of the Lance Armstrong era; a decent man who committed a stupid act trying to keep up with Generation EPO. But given what we know about doping in athletics, was Chambers’ behaviour really that different? It is time morality gave way to reality.

It was not as if drugs were the making of him either: genetics and hard work were. As a 21-year-old, Chambers barged through the 10-second barrier for 100m while in the 60m he has run 6.42sec, the third fastest time in history. The talent was there long before the THG.

And unlike many other drug cheats, Chambers has said sorry. He also paid back the six-figure sum he owed the International Association of Athletics Federations during the period he was using performance-enhancing drugs and apologised “for the pain and distress I’ve caused the sport”. He acknowledged that he was “too ignorant and weak to know better”, and keeps all his press cuttings to show his eldest son so that he doesn’t repeat the same mistakes.

As Chambers’ former coach Stuart McMillan, who trained him for almost three years, points out: “In a world where the default setting for a doping positive is denial, Dwain did not only own up to his mistake, but he went out of his way to atone for it. It is a real shame that now, over a decade later, he is still unable to make the living in his sport that he deserves to – especially when I see so many others who are doing so – many of whom have never admitted guilt, and many of whom have never lifted a finger in reparation.”

There are those who found it distasteful that Chambers returned to athletics. That he fought so hard to compete in the London 2012 Olympics. That he had trials-cum-publicity stunts with the rugby league side Castleford and the NFL Europa team Hamburg Sea Devils, and exploited his notoriety by appearing on Hell’s Kitchen and Cirque de Celebrité.

But what else did his detractors want him to do? He was trying to scrape a living – something that was made tougher because he was excluded from European grand prix meetings until 2011 even though other athletes convicted of taking drugs were allowed to compete.

And on he goes. Careers of top sprinters don’t usually stretch beyond 30 but Chambers is still plugging away, searching for fast times and acceptance as he nears his 36th birthday.

On Friday he chuckled when he was reminded that he was six years older than anyone else in the 60m field, and then again after forgetting how many medals he had won. He also talked about how he was relishing mixing it with the younger generation. “I’m happy,” he said. “I’m smiling more. I’m in a good place.”

That should hearten even his deepest detractors. As McMillan points out, Chambers’ entire career post-drug positive has been a struggle to prove – to both himself and the public – that he is not only a great sprinter, but a decent man. He has surely done that now.

A decade ago Chambers made a catastrophic error of judgment. It will always define him. But it is time we lifted the burden.

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James Dasaolu a doubt for world indoor championships with leg injury

• Sprinter pulls up clutching leg in 60m final in Birmingham
• Dwain Chambers advises Dasaolu to give Sopot a miss

James Dasaolu faces an anxious wait to see whether he will be fit for the world indoor championships at the start of next month after leaving the Birmingham Indoor Arena in a wheelchair, having pulled up clutching his left leg during the men’s 60m final.

Dasaolu’s smile as he departed was rueful; the wave to the crowd regal yet forlorn. Initially he thought he had suffered cramp 15m from the finish line but a statement from British Athletics on Saturday night revealed that he would undergo further assessment on Monday on a suspected thigh strain.

It matters little now that Dasaolu’s momentum carried him to victory in 6.50sec, ahead of the Jamaican Nesta Carter, who took bronze at the world championships in Moscow last year, in 6.53. Or that in his heats Dasaolu ran 6.47, a personal best and the fastest time in the world this year. Again we are talking about Dasaolu and injuries.

It is a recurring theme. Dasaolu suffered several years of pains and strains and niggles before joining his coach Barry Fudge in 2011 and blooming last year, where he smashed through the 10-second barrier for the 100m for the first time and reached the world championship final.

But Dasaolu is like a high-performance sports car that only needs a bolt to loosen slightly to send it into the garage. He pulled out of the 2013 British championships final in July with cramp, while tightness in his hip forced him to withdraw from a much-hyped showdown with Usain Bolt at the Anniversary Games.

The frustrating thing in Birmingham was that Dasaolu had looked so impressive in beating several of the athletes he will hope to meet at the world championships in Sopot in three weeks’ time – including Kim Collins, the 2003 100m world champion, and the Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut, who beat him to the European title in Gothenburg last year. Dasaolu deserves to be gold medal favourite – assuming he gets there.

But at least one British sprinter was smiling on Saturday night as Dwain Chambers ran 6.56 to finish fourth. “It’s probably the second or third fastest time I’ve run in three years so it shows that it’s still there,” he said. “I’m Benjamin Button right now. I don’t know if my position in Sopot is confirmed yet but I want to be on the team.”

However, Chambers believes that Dasaolu might be best advised to give the world indoor championships a miss. “To get ready for Poland at the jeopardy of ruining his season, I would advise him personally to have to sit it out,” he said. “He’s in good shape and the long-term should be his main objective.”

There were encouraging signs for the Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford, who equalled his indoor personal best with a leap of 8m as he finished third behind the Russian world champion Aleksandr Menkov.

Rutherford, who was competing for the first time since failing to qualify for the final of the world championships in Moscow in August, looked fit and fast after recovering from a ruptured hamstring.

“That was absolutely brilliant from my point of view,” he said. “There’s a few things I’ve got to iron out but that’s the best opening I’ve had to an indoor season ever and maybe the best opening to a season at all.

“Obviously I always want to win but I’ve got to be serious with these things. I came back from a massive injury last year which I was worried was going to affect the rest of my career and I’ve managed to jump three jumps better than any British athlete has done this year.”

In the heats of the men’s 60m hurdles, Britain’s Andy Pozzi sprang a surprise by running a season’s best of 7.57 to beat the world champion David Oliver and the Russian Sergey Shubenkov, who took bronze in Moscow.

But the 21-year-old Pozzi, who suffered a hamstring injury during London 2012 and missed 2013 after surgery on his foot, was unable to replicate his form in the final where he finished in sixth position behind the Frenchman Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, who won in 7.55.

The British team for the world indoor championships will be named on Tuesday and Nigel Levine made a strong case for inclusion by winning the men’s 400m in a lifetime best of 45.71. As did Andrew Osagie who came fourth in the 800m in 1.45.22 sec – the second fastest 800m run by a British athlete indoors after Sebastian Coe.

Elsewhere, Sergey Bubka’s 21-year-old indoor pole vault record was broken by the Frenchman Renauld Lavillenie. Lavillenie, who won gold at Londonin 2012, cleared 6.16m in a meeting in Donetsk to beat Bubka’s record by a centimetre.

Lavillenie, whose best outdoors is 6.02m, described his achievement as “completely unbelievable”. He told the French channel BFM TV: “I will need time to get back down on earth. It was a mythical record. I am in a new dimension.”

Bubka said: “It’s great, a historical moment. I’m very happy I passed the baton to such a great athlete and such a great personality and role model.”

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