March 11, 2012

ISTANBUL (AP) -- With another world indoors medal and the backing of his gold-winning rival, British sprinter Dwain Chambers is now turning his attention to a doping case that opens Monday that could allow him to compete in the London Olympics.

Despite Chambers' bronze medal in the 60 meters Saturday, London organizing committee chairman Sebastian Coe says his thoughts remain "unreconstructed" and he backs the British Olympic Association in its lifetime ban for doping offenders.

Coe, however, insisted that the case to determine whether Britain can remain the only country that enforces such a lifetime ban is much more about the autonomy of sporting federations to make independent decisions than about a decision on drug cheats.

"I do think, for me, it is really as much about the principle," Coe told a small group of reporters. "I do think a national Olympic committee, for example the BOA, must have the right to agree that sanction if they think it is in the common interest of the sport."

Chambers served a two-year ban after testing positive for THG in 2003 and was beaten in Saturday's final by American rival Justin Gatlin, who himself served a four-year doping ban before returning in 2010.

"It did look a bit like it was the rehabilitation of offenders," Coe said of the final.

In the United States, Gatlin faces no obstacles to compete in the trials for the U.S. Olympic team and publicly came out in support for Chambers after his victory.

"He is one of the best British runners in history," Gatlin said. "He came back after all these trials and tribulations and still has established himself as one of the best runners for the UK team.

"Having him on the line at the Olympics would be a great show," Gatlin said.

Chambers has steadfastly decided to stay out of the issue, which technically pits the World Anti-Doping Agency against the BOA. WADA says the lifetime Olympic ban is "noncompliant" with its global code and amounts to a second sanction.

The CAS ruling is expected in April.

"If I become eligible to compete then I still have to qualify. I still have to compete against the best in Britain and stay injury free," Chambers said. "So there is no guarantee."

Beyond Chambers, who served a two-year ban in the BALCO scandal, cyclist David Millar, who was suspended for two years after testing positive for EPO, is a key athlete who could profit from the ruling.

The BOA's regulation came under scrutiny after CAS threw out the International Olympic Committee rule that bars athletes who have received doping bans of more than six months from competing in the next games.

The CAS ruling cleared the way for American 400-meter runner LaShawn Merritt to defend his Olympic title in London. Merritt completed a 21-month doping ban last year.

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