THE TUESDAY COMMENT
|ONE RULE FOR ONE?|
1. As a sports fan, do you think Dwain Chambers should be allowed to represent Great Britain at the world indoor athletics championships?
2. If so, do you agree he should also be permitted to wear a GB vest and run at the Olympic Games?
3. Do you agree that David Millar should ride for Great Britain at the World Championships?
4. And what about the Olympic Games?
According to the rules of the respective sports and the British Olympic Association (BOA) the answers are:
1. UK Athletics are left with a quandary after Chambers qualified by winning the 60 metres at the national trials. Put him in and they’ll face a backlash. Leave him out and Chambers has promised to mount a legal challenge.
2. As an athlete who has been caught and suspended for doping, he is ineligble to ever represent Great Britain at the Olympics under the BOA’s rules.
3. David Millar has raced at both World Championships since his ban ended in June 2006
4. But Millar, who confessed to doping, is banned from the Olympics for life by the BOA – a regulation BOA officials say won’t be changing any time soon.
The problem here is that the system is still such a mess. The BOA has jurisdiction over selection for the British Olympic team and its rules are clear. Dope and you can’t compete for Britain again – although even that rule has had some exceptions.
UK Athletics is attempting to send out the same message by stating that Chambers should not compete for Britain at all following his two-year ban for taking a designer steroid.
In cycling, Millar has already raced in a Great Britain jersey, even though he cannot compete at the Olympics.
This is not to bash Millar, but simply to highlight that there are discrepancies.
Either a national federation is anti-doping or it isn’t. You can’t say “Well, this athlete can compete in this sport at that championships but this one can’t.”
Then there is the extremely unpalatable suggestion that Chambers may launch a legal challenge if UK Athletics leaves him out of the team for the World Indoor Championships.
And it comes down to the old argument about punishment and redemption again.
A criminal is free to continue with the rest of his life once he’s served his sentence, so the argument goes.
Yes, true, but a man convicted of financial fraud would not be hired by a bank, would he?
Someone will no doubt point out the case of Frank Abagnale, the remarkable fraudster played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie Catch Me If You Can. Abagnale served time for his numerous cons and now earns a living helping detect fraud and design scam-proof systems.
So what it all boils down to is the need for a clear set of rules that apply the same rules to everyone regardless of sport and nationality. And that falls to the IOC and WADA to draw up and implement.
Representing your country is not a right, it’s a privilege. In sports like cycling and athletics, complex qualifying criteria has been applied to avoid accusations of preference based on factors other than pure performance.
But while I detest the phrase ‘the world’s gone PC mad’ because it’s the sort of thing readers of the Daily Mail find spilling out of their mouths before they’ve had a chance to think, it does seem the sport’s world has gone PC mad.
Does Chambers have the right to race for Britain because he won the qualifying event? Or does the fact he cheated over-rule that right?
If Chambers successfully challenges the BOA rule, it would have implications for Millar, potentially opening the door for him to be selected for 2012, if not 2008.
But is that right? Millar has made huge strides to repair his image in the past year, so how do you judge how much is enough? Is Millar as sorry as – or more sorry – than Chambers? Is that how to decide? How do any rules make provision for that?
|ANYONE NEED TICKETS?|
Tickets for the cycling events in the velodrome are rarer than Willy Wonka’s golden ones. All the cycling sessions are sold out, with just a handful of tickets – between six and 15 – for each session made available to British fans.
It means that the parents, wives, girlfriends, relatives and friends of our track stars will most likely travel to Beijing empty-handed in the hope of picking up tickets from touts when they get there.
As David Hoy, father of 2004 gold medallist Chris, told The Times: “We seem to be at the end of a very long queue. I know the Olympics are about business and not just sport but the last thing we want is to be standing outside the venue with a banner saying ‘Athlete’s parents need tickets’.”
Never fear, though, because Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell is on the case, trying to negotiate another 5,000 tickets to be allocated to British fans across all sports.
Hang on a minute, though, because when you look into this a bit more, it seems that 75 per cent of the seven million tickets for the Olympics will go to Chinese nationals.
Isn’t that what the Olympics is all about – a one-in-a-lifetime event for the people of the host country to attend and enjoy?
Let’s hope that when the Games come to London, 75 per cent of the tickets are allocated to British nationals.
What should have happened, of course, is that each country’s Olympic association – in Britain’s case the BOA – should be awarded a fair allocation of tickets so that athletes can be assured their nearest and dearest can be there to support them.
Instead, how many of those millions of tickets sold to the Chinese are going to be sold on, probably at a profit, to the families of competing athletes? I’d bet a very great number of them.
Last year he hit the ground running by taking the Grand Prix La Marseillaise in the south of France.
Of course his season went sour after that, because Unibet.com’s sponsorship of the team contravened French law concerning the advertising of bookmakers.
That gave ASO the excuse it needed to leave the the team out of its ProTour races and the UCI, shockingly, failed to give them much backing.
And although there were legitimate questions about whether it was appropriate for a cycling team to be sponsored by a bookmaker, it doesn’t seem to have stopped a rash of online betting companies pouring their money into football where the same conflict of interests exists.
Anyway, Hunt managed to get another contract – extending his career into a 13th year – with Crédit Agricole, and his win in the Tour of Langkawi will have impressed his new employer.
Hunt will be 34 next month but given a free run, unhindered by the political nonsense that marred his last campaign, he could still net some big wins.
Perhaps we could campaign to move Milan-San Remo to the first week in February?
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