November 24 - Reigning 1000 metre sprint kayak Olympic champion Tim Brabants (pictured) has told insidethegames that he "fully supports" the British Olympic Association (BOA) bylaw preventing athletes convicted of doping offences from competing in the subsequent Games, adding that he would not want to be part of the same team as sprinter Dwain Chambers, who is still hoping to compete at London 2012.

Chambers is hoping that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling last month, which determined that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) could not ban athletes who had been convicted of anti-doping offences and suspended for more than six months from the next Olympics, will give him the opportunity to compete at the Games next year.

The CAS outcome nullified the IOC's rule 45 – or Osaka rule – and meant that US 400m sprint champion LaShawn Merritt could compete at London 2012, while also increasing pressure on the BOA to scrap their own bylaw, which prevents drugs cheats competing for their country at future Olympics.

The bylaw has become an increasing bone of contention between the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the BOA, with CAS reaching its decision last month on the basis that WADA regulations only allow for a maximum of a two year ban for drug cheats.

Speaking at the launch of Team EDF – of which he is a member – at London's Tower Bridge yesterday, Brabants hit out at this two year ban, saying that it was insufficient in itself, and believes the BOA's own bylaw does not go far enough.

The sprint kayaker, who left the sport after winning gold in Beijing in 2008, is also a doctor, and so brings a medical perspective to the debate.

"I don't believe those athletes aren't still gaining from cheating [after serving their suspension]," he told insidethegames.

"You may have a two year ban but you're still benefiting from that bulk and that strength that you gained from cheating – it doesn't seem fair.

"I'm very clear on that matter; I fully support the BOA bylaw.

"I don't believe it's fair that athletes who cheated to improve their performance should be allowed to represent their country in sport ever again, let alone at the Olympics.

"To go away for two years and come back is not much of a discouragement.

"What's discouraging you from taking that risk?"

Though the main point of contention over the bylaw is that it is not consistent with WADA's regulations, Brabants feels that this reasoning is "crazy".

"Just because it is not consistent with what everyone else is doing does not mean it is wrong," he insisted.

"I think as an athlete as well I like being involved in an organisation where we have such stringent, tough punishments for cheats.

"I don't understand why WADA are wasting money and time opposing the ruling.

"They should spend their money trying to find more cheats – not trying to force the BOA to drop their bylaw.

"Some athletes talk about restriction of trade, [but] what about restriction of trade for athletes knocked out by cheating athletes who may give up the sport if they think they can't make it unless they cheat?

"So there is a restriction of trade on both sides if that is their argument – if you cheat why should you be allowed to ever represent your country?"

Though he adds that the BOA's appeals process in the case of a genuine misunderstanding is vital, the 2007 world champion insists he does not want to be on the same team as Chambers (pictured) or anyone else who is found guilty of taking drugs.

"I don't want to be on a Team GB alongside people who have cheated.

"[I have] no interest in being on a team with him [Chambers].

"I know it sounds harsh but he took drugs to boost his performance and was quite happy to represent our country and stand on the podium to collect his medals.

"I think other Team GB athletes feel the same way."

Away from the bylaw controversy, Brabants is still waiting to qualify for the Games next year, but told insidethegames that he was "very confident" that he would be competing in London next year.

"Barring any accidents or injuries I see no reason why I won't be there as long as I can avoid having surgery like I did at this time last year," he said, adding that he was "definitely" looking to retain his gold medal.

He also said that having had time off after Beijing, before deciding to come back to the sport ahead of the London 2012 Games, he had been able to train harder than before because of the break he gave his body.

"Having a break gave my body a chance to repair itself so you can train harder when you come back into it," Brabants explained.

"So actually I changed training for the better in a positive way.

"Having had a break you lose weight and muscle and I really look forward to getting the fitness and strength back and look to build myself into a better shape than before."

By David Gold

Source: www.insidethegames.biz


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