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article imageOp-Ed: The crime and punishment of Dwain Chambers

By Alexander Baron     Apr 29, 2012 in Sports
London - In 2004, champion sprinter Dwain Chambers was banned for life from Olympic competition. A dispassionate examination of the facts of his case reveals this sanction to be disproportionate if not totally unwarranted.
In July 2008, a police officer dragged a far from young woman half his size through the custody suite of a Wiltshire police station and threw her down in a cell where she smashed her face and suffered permanent damage to her eye. He was prosecuted, convicted, gaoled and sacked, but after a mere six days behind bars his conviction was quashed, and, much to the disgust of his victim - and every right thinking citizen of this once green and pleasant land - Sergeant Mark Andrews was given his job back.
It can be misleading to draw comparisons between such disparate cases, but the “crime” Dwain Chambers committed has one thing in common with the assault on Pamela Somerville, it was one of recklessness rather than of malice. The big difference is that no one was assaulted, no one suffered permanent damage, no one cried out in pain.
The offence that led to his two year ban from athletics and more importantly the lifetime ban on competing in the Olympics resulted from his seduction by a smooth-tongued sports nutritionist. Over the next few years, he was subjected to such vituperation in the controlled media that a casual reader could be forgiven for believing his name was Drugs Cheat Dwain Chambers. Fortunately, not everyone was so narrow-minded, and he managed to continue his career, albeit in a far from illustrious fashion. Tomorrow, he will learn if he will be permitted to compete in the Olympic trials.
Dwain Chambers is now 34 years old, not young for a sprinter, and he may not qualify, but he should be given the chance.
We are all products of our genes, our environment, and luck. Chambers does not appear to have excelled academically, but he had a God-given talent, and made the most of it. He could have become a gangsta; he could have got involved in riots or social disorder; he could have mugged people and been in and out of gaol; he could have sat around and whined about how racist society was holding him down. He did none of these things, instead, he stayed clear of gangs, of crime, and of recreational drugs, played to his strengths, put in long hours training, and made something of himself.
If a thug in uniform deserves a second chance, so does Dwain Chambers. One thing is for certain, the women of Britain will feel a darn site safer watching him run in the Olympics than they would having their collars felt by Sergeant Mark Andrews.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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