torsdag 2 april 2009

Dwain Chambers gets support from Ed Moses

Ed Moses
The status of Dwain Chambers as the most divisive figure in athletics was underlined last night when an Olympic legend and anti-drugs crusader bucked the trend for moral condemnation of the disgraced British sprinter. Ed Moses, one of the most erudite and respected figures in the sport, said it was ridiculous and quite wrong that Chambers was effectively banned from top-level meetings.
Moses, who helped to initiate out-of-competition testing in the wake of the Ben Johnson scandal at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, also accused the authorities of picking on their chosen “pariah” and called for counselling for dopers.
It was a reasoned argument that proved the issue of reformed dopers is not as black and white as either apologists or deniers would have it.
“The authorities were saying they wanted these athletes to come clean and tell us what they know,” Moses said. “He's done that and I always believed he has some knowledge about these matters.
“There's been a whole host of Olympic champions and athletes who have taken drugs since 2000 and been on the podium, so you can't discount what he has to say, much as you may not like him or have negative feelings about him, and it would be judicious to listen to him.”
Chambers's recently published autobiography opened a fresh can of worms and prompted Lord Coe to say that anti-doping campaigners would have to “hold their nose” when he competed. Moses provided a different perspective. Two 400metres hurdling golds from 1976 and 1984 and a place on UK Athletics' Anti-Doping Review Panel have not changed the American's view that Chambers has been unfairly singled out.
The best sprinter in Europe is in limbo because of the Euromeetings agreement not to offer invitations to those with two-year convictions. Torri Edwards, the American sprinter, ran at Crystal Palace last summer, but her ban had been reduced to 17 months. Moses said that was splitting hairs.
“I think that's ridiculous,” he said. “It makes no sense at all. If that's their stance, they should ban everyone who has been convicted of doping. If the promoters are serious, they should treat everyone the same way.
“It really comes down to the fact that, for whatever reason, he [Chambers] has been singled out. You can't say we don't want this athlete because he's dirty and then have another 20 athletes who are dirty, too.
“I can see why people were outraged [by Chambers's book] because what he has to say doesn't do the sport any good. However, if it is the truth, then the authorities should not be looking to chastise him for that.”
Moses was speaking after conducting a session with runners taking part in the Flora London Marathon. His role with Laureus's Sport for Good Foundation, which tries to bring about social change through sport and has pumped close to £20million into projects around the world, evinces a compassion that extends to helping the dopers.
“There's an obligation on the federations to provide some long-term treatment because it's a medical problem as well as a moral one,” he said. “Don't make a pariah out of someone. Enforce the rules and, after they pay the penalty, that's it.
“There are a tremendous amount of athletes who have been testing positive. To deny that and pretend it does not exist is doing a disservice to the sport. I don't care if you're an athlete or an administrator. The fact is nobody has wanted to deal with it for years.”
Much like another American statesman in London, Moses believes blame is less important than fixing the problem, but he said he has seen encouraging signs. “I've seen a change of attitude among governing bodies and especially Wada [the World Anti- Doping Agency],” he said.
“It's getting harder. Out-of-competition testing is better. But the police are not going to catch every drug dealer or gunrunner and they are not going to get everyone who takes performance-enhancing drugs.”

Rick Broadbent, Athletics Correspondent

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