1:47 PM EDT, April 30, 2012
The international court decision allowing past British dopers to compete in the Olympic Games was an issue of law, not morality, no matter how much the holier-than-thou wailers from across the pond wanted to couch it as possibly leading to the end of civilization as they know it.
But the pompous twits in the British Olympic Association (BOA) pressed ahead anyway with a losing case of trying to impose lifetime Olympic bans on the likes of sprinter Dwain Chambers and cyclist David Millar, costing time and money that could have been spent otherwise.
Once the Court or Arbitratation for Sport ruled last fall that the International Olympic Committee could not play by its own rules to keep reigning Olympic 400-meter champion LaShawn Merritt of the United States from running in London, it was apparent the Brits had no legal leg to stand on.
In a ruling announced Monday, CAS reiterated what it said in the Merritt case: that Britain's attempt to impose a lifetime ban amounted to a second punishment for an offense that called for a specified (and much lesser) sanction - usually two years for the drugs in question.
Summarizing its reasoning, the CAS panel said the BOA by-law on lifetime bans was not in compliance with the current rules of the World Anti-Doping Agency. That was almost exactly what it had said in throwing out IOC Rule 45, passed in June, 2008, which made any athlete with a doping ban of six months or more ineligible for the next Olympics.
There is an ongoing review of those sanctioning rules, known as the WADA code, which could lead to longer bans for offenses such as use of anabolic steroids when WADA officials meet in November, 2013.
But being a signatory to the WADA code is a pre-requisite for Olympic participation, and that means playing by the rules in place.
Yet the British couldn't resist grandstanding by seeking stentorian punishment for its past offenders.
Much of the British press - and the British Commonwealth press - went right along with the charade crusade.
They were positively thrilled when British 400-meter hurdler Dai Greene threatened to seek out Merritt for a London tongue-lashing.
"I'll happily go and find him at the start and tell him to his face: 'You're a cheat and you shouldn't be here,"' Greene has said.
I am positively thrilled that CAS has told the Brits - those alleged supporters of fair play - that they can't make up rules to fit the situation.
Furthermore, the idea of a lifetime ban is patently ridiculous and unfair given a testing system with technology that cannot keep up with advances in performance-enhancing substances and sometimes finds false positives.
After all, Marion Jones never had a doping control ruled positive despite her later admissions of doping; the only time she apparently was caught, for use of erythropoietin, the result was thrown out for ambiguity.
And I still haven't seen the Brits get in a swivet over Linford Christie's being allowed to keep his 1988 Olympic silver medal in the 100 meters despite having tested positive for a banned stimulant. Christie went on to win the gold four years later, then tested positive for an anabolic steroid in 1999 and got a two-year ban.
Who is naive enough to think Christie was indubitably clean when he won the 1992 gold?
Oh, imagine the gnashing of teeth if Chambers, Millar, Merritt and 2004 Olympic 100-meter champion Justin Gatlin of the United States win medals in London. All had been banned for use of steroids or EPO.
But there really is just one way to look at it: they did the crime, then did the time mandated by the rules.
You can be against doping and still be for their chance to compete in the 2012 Olympics.
That is fair play.
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