Should we support Dwain Chambers in a Great Britain vest?
Wednesday February 13, 2008
Yes: Simeon Williamson, British sprinter and rival for a place in the national squad
The current rules say that if you've served your time, which Dwain has, that you should be allowed to come back. And that's what he has done so I don't have a problem with that.
But I do think that the rules should be changed so if you get caught in future you should be banned for the rest of your life because you are a drugs cheat. That does not apply to Dwain, though, because he has served his ban under the current rules so we should get off his back. But the rules should be tightened in the future - going forward I don't think people should be given a second chance.
It is not like Dwain is getting off lightly with things, though, because as things stand he will also miss the Olympics for the rest of his career and that is the biggest thing in an athlete's life. The world s are the next biggest competition after the Olympics but they are not as special. I think it is right that he should not be allowed to run at the Olympics again.
Dwain did not set a good example to other athletes but at least he admitted what he did, which half the other athletes who are banned for drugs off ences never do. I don't think it is true that Dwain has damaged the reputation of British athletics because there are other drugs cheats out there, like the shot-putter Carl Myerscough and there wasn't such a big thing about him.
He served a two-year ban a few years ago but he was at Sheffield for the trials for the world indoors team and he has been selected for the championships. There has been no suggestion that his presence has damaged our reputation. I think people are looking a little at the man rather than the issue here because Dwain has a bit of a reputation.
Dwain is one of our best medal chances. He is joint fifth in the world in the 60 metres at the moment so he has a real chance of success. We should be grateful we have got someone like him. He is a talented sprinter who made a wrong decision at that moment in his life.
The other athletes I've spoken to are behind Dwain 100%. Obviously there are a few people out there who are against him but the ones I've spoken to are behind him.
I'll be cheering him at the worlds as part of the team like I will be for any other athlete, but if I'm there hopefully I'll be running past him when I do. I'll be one of the first people to congratulate him, if I get the gold and he gets the silver.
No: Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, five-time Paralympian with 16 medals including 11 golds
There should be one rule: if you test positive for drugs, that is it, you are out for life. If that was brought in across track and field, then people would know where they stand. It is why, if I was in the British team, I would not be comfortable with Dwain Chambers back. In a way, I feel sorry for Dwain with the position he is in now because people either love him or hate him.
I support UK Athletics and its chief executive, Niels de Vos, in taking the stronger stance in what he is trying to do for the sport. Dwain won by being allowed to run at the trials and you have to live with that. What is crucial now is how the sport moves forward and how it seeks to change the rules to make the ban more stringent for athletes seeking a return after a suspension for failing a drugs tests.
At the moment, Dwain is complying with what the rules say. For example, you look at someone who has come out of jail. They have served their time for their crime, but does it always mean that their sentence was the right length?
There are many reasons why athletes take drugs and there should be a stringent penalty because if not, what is the point of having all these rules?
I do not know huge specifics of Dwain's case but unlike the past with the more organised doping problems in, say, the old eastern European countries when you did something or else, the responsibility has now been put back very firmly on the athlete to be aware of what they are taking.
Equally, I do not think he should be allowed to run at the Olympic Games as the argument goes on about whether he would overturn the rule preventing him from competing. But it is not just about Dwain. No athlete who has been suspended for taking banned substances should have the opportunity to compete at the either the Olympics or the Paralympics. It is the biggest occasion in the life of a sports person, the culmination of everything, and it is how you are recognised and measured, whether you are a good or an average athlete. I would fundamentally disagree with the rules changing to allow someone who has served a drugs ban to go to the Olympics or Paralympics.
Yet, when it is about money, glamour and status, people will cheat and I can see why . Winning is addictive. If you are competing in front of 110,000 people and you are the one who everyone is cheering, it is unbelievable. I have been in that situation. It is incredibly powerful. Modern culture is about being the best but is also about celebrity and having your face in the paper.
Sport is the same. It is not just about winning your race, it is about all the other opportunities it brings you, and some of the benefits is can bring. The money is huge from sporting success but it is not what is really about. It is about achieving it the correct way and not crossing that divide.