WADA give Millar glimmer of hope
David Millar could still appear at next year's London 2012 Olympics after the World Anti-Doping agency decided to challenge the legal validity of the British Olympic Association's controversial lifetime Games ban for convicted drugs cheats.
WADA have asked the Court of Arbitration in Sport, whose decisions are binding, to make a judgement in the matter, claiming the BOA's position is non-compliant with their code, which stipulates a maximum two-year ban for doping offences, and a decision is expected early next year.
The move prompted barely masked fury from BOA chairman Colin Moynihan, who just 24 hours ago, in a clear pre-emptive strike, had questioned WADA's processes and protocols and hit out at 'toothless' anti-doping measures.
Team GB officials claim they have the support of the International Olympic Committee and insist their right to select who they like for the Games is enshrined in the Olympic charter.
And unlike the IOC, who lost a CAS case earlier this year and were forced to revise their position of banning athletes from the Games that followed a doping conviction, the BOA claim their more hardline stance is an issue of selection rather than eligibility.
They also point out that an appeal process is in place to ensure those that make honest mistakes are not given the same sanctions as more serious cheats, the reason why Christine Ohuruogu was cleared to compete and win 400m gold in Beijing, despite serving a one-year suspension for missing three random tests.
"We think it is time for the debate to move forward; the overwhelming majority of athletes compete clean and they should be treated fairly across the world," said Moynihan.
"We want to see all 204 countries which compete in the Olympic Games to be as robust as the BOA on this issue. It is unacceptable that over 60 percent of the countries in the Olympic movement have anti-doping policies that are non-compliant with the WADA code.
"It is unacceptable that WADA has spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to clean up drugs in sport and yet the processes of detection are letting athletes down and the sanctions for those guilty athletes are getting weaker not stronger. As Steve Redgrave said: ‘A two-year ban for doping is almost saying it is acceptable.’
"I hope the integrity of the BOA’s position serves as a catalyst for the rest of the world to follow suit in our resolution and determination to defend our selection policy on behalf of our athletes and uphold the principles of fair play and clean competition upon which it was founded.”
The BOA's position was challenged in the High Court by Dwain Chambers in the build-up to the Beijing Olympics but his technical case was always viewed as flawed and Mr Justice Mackay refused to grant an injunction, ruling his right to work was not a good enough reason to overturn the suspension.
Moynihan held a meeting with the BOA board today to bring them up to date with the situation and underline his determination to suit up for the fight, while athletes' commission chair Sarah Winckless, a former Olympic rower, was quick to point out how over 90 percent of British athletes supported the ban remaining in place.