Dwain Chambers has been named in the Great Britain squad for the world indoor championships being held in Valencia, Spain next month.
The announcement comes after Chambers dominated the British trials, beating established names such as Craig Pickering and Simeon Williamson en route to a 6.56 60m clocking that ranks him 5th in the world.
However the statement made by the UKA selection committee could hardly have been more damning and is reproduced in full below.
Based on his performance at the Norwich Union World Trials, the Selection Committee has selected Dwain Chambers for a place in the 60 metres at the 2008 World Indoors in Valencia. In taking this action, however, the selectors wished to issue a statement, which made clear their concerns.
The Committee was unanimous in its desire not to select Dwain. Taking him to the World Indoors deprives young, upwardly mobile committed athletes of this key development opportunity. Our World Class Performance Programme is focused on achievement at Olympic and World level. On this basis, it is extremely frustrating to leave young athletes at home; eligible for Beijing, in possession of the qualifying standard and committed to ongoing participation in a drug-free sport. In contrast, we have to take an individual whose sudden return, especially when considered against his previous actions and comments, suggests that he may be using the whole process for his own ends.
Unfortunately, the committee felt that the selection criteria pertaining to the winner of the Trials, coupled with the manner of Dwain’s performance, left them no room to take any other decision.
We wish all the selected athletes well at the event, but will certainly explore ways in which future selections can be made to match the true spirit of our sport.
This statement boils down to little more than sour grapes by a selection committee forced into an untenable position by Niels de Vos’s stringent and unwieldy drugs policy and the certainty of a legal suit had they not done the honourable thing.
Athletics is a meritorious sport, the best get selected and the best win the medals; a selection committee’s job first and foremost is to select a team with the best chance of winning.
Chambers has proved he is the best, in his times and the way he has conducted himself in spite of the vitriol directed at him from several professional organisations as well as the media.
Last week James Hendersen openly attacked the Londoner in his publication Athletics Weekly making sweeping statements about how athletics fans did not want Chambers to compete.
So far, UKA has failed in its quest to keep dirty Dwain out of the sport. But we can all do our bit to support De Vos. Start by booing when Chambers is introduced on Sunday, for starters.
However, at the trials Chambers received by far the biggest cheers of the meet.
Dave Bedford (You know who he is right? No? Me neither), the race director of the London Marathon (Thank God for Google) who also called for fans to boo Chambers offered this tenuous explanation,
It’s fairly obvious that those still watching athletics don’t care but what we have is fewer people watching the sport than 10 years ago.
The people who would have booed have already voted with their feet.
Or maybe they couldn’t get tickets as the Sheffield Indoor arena was completely sold out all weekend.
Either way in applying the rules of the sport as one of the selectors said Chambers has had the second opportunity that his talent deserves and is his human right.
The British public has always had an affinity with the underdog and maybe next time UKA will not be so quick to persecute an individual.