Cheat long and prosper?

As this is my last sports editorial, I wanted to round things off, and this has fit in quite nicely. If you picked up the Courier in October, you will have seen my take on the controversy of the Team GB, and whether or not we should have a football team representing us at the Olympics.

Continuing with this theme of the Olympics, you may have seen in the news that at the start of May, the Court of Arbitration for Sport overruled the British Olympic of Association’s lifetime ban they imposed on Dwain Chambers, meaning that should Dwain Chambers qualify for the Olympics, the BOA must include him in their team, to represent the country in this summer’s show-piece event in London.

Chambers was banned for taking the performance enhancing drug THG, tetrahydrogestrinone, and later admitted to also using epitestosterone cream, EPO, HGH, insulin lispro, modafinil and liothyronine.

I cannot even pronounce these words, never mind understand how they work in enhancing performance, but all I know is the crucial fact, and the most damming one; they allow the user to cheat, and to gain an unfair advantage over their opponent.

The Olympics is the ultimate test for the athletes, and for many the pinnacle of their career, yet they are competing against people who have illegally enhanced their performance through drug taking. How is it fair on them?

Dwain Chambers, after he was found guilty of taking performance enhancing drugs, was then stripped of the medals he won, whilst “under the influence”. This medal was in the 4x100m relay, and his time was discounted, which meant that his team-mates in the relay race were also stripped of their gold medal. Because of one man’s stupidity, the pinnacle of their career was cruelly torn away from them.

Simply for this, simply for ruining three other men’s achievement, I believe he shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the Olympic stadium.

I’m all for giving people second chances, and allowing them to prove themselves that they have reformed, but the Olympics is a competition based on the principle of being better, faster and stronger than your opponent. By all means, give him a ban, and then allow him to compete at World Championships but why give him the chance to scupper someone else’s dreams, and sully the reputation of Team GB in the process. It dumbfounds me.

Tim Brabants, an Olympic Gold medallist in kayaking in Beijing 2008 summed up the ethos that every athlete competing at the Olympics should embody; ‘I can stand on that podium and know I’ve never used any form of cheating in my life to get where I’ve got to.’

In allowing Dwain Chambers to allow compete at the Olympics, if he does indeed qualify, I fear that the CAS have taken away the only deterrent that would make the athletes think twice about illegally enhancing their performance.

A two year ban is simply not powerful enough. A two year ban, for effectively stealing some one else’s chance of glory, or robbing them of the chance to be successful? If you were to burgle a house, or steal someone’s car, you’d get more in prison than the cheats get in the Olympics.

In his two year ban, Dwain Chambers had trials for San Francisco 49ers American football team, went onto the reality T.V show Hell’s Kitchen, and played for a British Rugby League team, constantly being followed by a media circus, gaining constant publicity. How is this punishment? He cheated his way through the Olympics, and then continued to live the life of riley, whilst every one had to follow him around picking up the pieces of his actions.

I also do not see how this is dissimilar from the match fixing scandal that has plagued cricket recently, with Pakistani trio Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir banned for a minimum of five years, and another 5 years suspended.

They bent the rules and they cheated to reward themselves financially, and the suspensions handed out to them by the ICC were firm and consistent, proving to any cricketers who may be considering cheating that serious sanctions await them.

Some would argue that this wasn’t harsh enough, and I am inclined to believe this myself, but where the ICC have differed from the CAS is that they have been consistent, and it is a deterrent.

Sport has to be played on a level playing field, everyone must start with the same chance, the same obstacles, and the best sportsmen will win, whether that be in a team game such as Cricket, or whether that me an individual sport, as is the case with the Olympics.

If this is not the case, how are we as sporting enthusiasts going to be able to enjoy the spectacle of sport, and encourage the future generations to get involved, if they are hindered from the start? The answer is if this corruption continues, we simply will not be able to.