Dwain Chambers and David Millar will be cleared to compete for Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics on Monday after the British Olympic Association’s life ban for doping offenders was ruled to be illegal.
Telegraph Sport can reveal that the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) has ruled that the BOA’s life ban does not comply with the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) code and is therefore unenforceable. The judgment will be formally published at 3pm on Monday.
As a result the BOA is powerless to prevent sprinter Chambers, cyclist Millar and possibly shot putter Carl Myerscough, who has also been banned for a doping offence, from competing in London this summer if they are selected.
The BOA chief executive, Andy Hunt, has said Chambers and Millar will be given “100 per cent support” if they are selected despite his organisation’s opposition. CAS is understood to have ruled against the BOA on the grounds that its life ban was an additional sanction on top of the penalties that were handed down to Millar and Chambers.
Under the terms of the Wada code, doping penalties must be uniform around the world. As a national Olympic committee the BOA is a signatory to the code and therefore bound to comply.
Both Chambers and Millar received two-year bans for doping offences. Chambers was banned in 2003 after failing a drugs test, while Millar was excluded from cycling in 2004 after admitting using the blood-booster EPO following a French police investigation.
Both Chambers and Millar have competed regularly in international competition for Great Britain at World and European Championships.
Myerscough failed a drugs test in 1999, though he has denied taking banned substances.
The ruling also potentially clears the way for Rio Ferdinand to play in the Olympic football tournament were he selected as an over-age player by coach Stuart Pearce. Ferdinand was banned for nine months in 2003 for missing a drugs test, an offence that would previously have made him ineligible for Team GB. If he misses out on the Euro 2012 squad he could now feature in Pearce’s selection.
CAS was asked to rule on the issue after Wada declared that the BOA was “non-compliant” with the code, a major embarrassment to the United Kingdom as the Olympics loomed.
The BOA had argued in its submission to CAS that it should be free to select whoever it chooses for the team, claiming that its by-law was a matter of eligibility rather than a sanction.
CAS appears to have rejected that argument and ruled in line with the recent precedent of the American sprinter LaShawn Merritt, who successfully challenge the International Olympic Committee over its similar law last year.
Under its 'Rule 45’ the IOC banned athletes from at least one Olympic Games in addition to their doping ban. Rule 45 was ruled illegal by CAS last November, and the same panel, chaired by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, has now reached a similar decision on the BOA by-law.
The decision finally settles an issue that has hung over London’s preparations and stirred fierce debate among present and former athletes.
The BOA has repeatedly said it was acting out of principle, and has been able to claim the support of a majority of its present athletes, who said they supported the ban in the most recent survey of opinion.
Following the CAS hearing in March, BOA chairman Lord Moynihan said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome of the case, though privately the BOA accepted that it was unlikely to win.
“Our selection policy is there with overwhelming support from the athletes. That simply says that we will only accept clean athletes, we won’t select those who have knowingly cheated clean athletes out of a place on the team,” Moynihan said at the time.
He has received support from the chairman of the BOA Athletes Commission, Sarah Winckless, and leading Olympians including London 2012 chairman Lord Coe and Sir Steve Redgrave.
Others have taken a less hostile position, with Sydney triple jump champion Jonathan Edwards and Kriss Akabusi arguing that former cheats who have served their time deserve a second chance. He said: “Athletes should get a second chance [but] two years is simply not enough. The world needs to unite and introduce four-year bans.”
BOA spokesman Darryl Seibel refused to comment or confirm the contents of the CAS judgment, which it received on Sunday afternoon.
In a statement the BOA said: “The British Olympic Association can confirm that today, it has received from the Court of Arbitration for Sport the written decision in the arbitration between the BOA and the World Anti-Doping Association.
“As the decision is to be announced first by CAS, and out of respect for CAS and the Arbitration Panel, the BOA will be offering no comment today.”
By Paul Kelso, Chief Olympics Correspondent