October 6 - The British Olympic Association's (BOA) chairman Colin Moynihan today put up a strong defence of his organisation's bylaw preventing athletes found guilty of a doping violation from taking part in any British Olympic team, pledging to do "everything in my power" to keep it in place.
Moynihan moved quickly to clarify the BOA's position in light of this morning's decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to rule that the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) rule 45, which banned any athlete serving a suspension of six months or more for doping violations from the subsequent Olympic Games, was "invalid and unenforceable".
The decision in Lausanne raised the prospect of the likes of Dwain Chambers, the British sprinter banned from participating in London 2012 for his use of a cocktail of banned drugs in 2003, taking an appeal to CAS to win the right to represent Britain.
"[The bylaw] is tough but fair," Moynihan told the press conference here at the BOA headquarters here this afternoon.
"The bylaw has stood the test of time for 20 years."
Moynihan contended that whereas the IOC rule 45 stipulated a further sanction on an athlete testing positive for an illegal substance, the BOA rule addresses their eligibility instead.
The IOC had argued a similar point when taking the case to CAS.
The BOA believe they are on strong ground regardless, as Moynihan insisted that they have a written endorsement from 2009 confirming that the bylaw conforms with the World Anti-Doping Code, something he says the IOC did not have.
Moynihan said that they would be writing to the IOC for reassurance of their autonomy to select the team they see fit for Olympic Games.
His stance was supported by Sarah Winckless (pictured), the Athens 2004 bronze medal winning rower, who is the BOA's Athletes' Commission chair.
"This law came in in 1992 and the overwhelming support for it is 90 per cent among athletes every time we ask," she said.
"We want a clean team and a clean sport.
"I've always been proud to line up with athletes I know are clean."
Even Britain's Sport and Olympics minister Hugh Robertson has stepped in to defend the BOA's stance on the matter.
"I have always supported the BOA ban, crucially 95 per cent of our athletes support the BOA ban and believe it is different from the IOC bylaw because inside that ban is a right of appeal which is not there with the IOC," he said today at the Leaders in Football conference in London.
"I spend a lot of time these days with our Olympics teams and if you ask any of them what their view is, they will absolutely, every man and woman, back that ban.
"Olympic athletes do not want people convicted of doping offences back in their sport.
"It is very clear and I absolutely support the BOA case."
Moynihan further defended the BOA position amid increasing pressure, notably from Travis Tygart, chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), who earlier this week called on them to scrap the bylaw.
"I don't believe our position is isolated," Moynihan said.
"One of the findings this morning was for the IOC to consider taking this forward and maybe embed rule 45 into the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) Code.
"You need to focus on the rights of athletes denied the right to compete.
"In sport there is nothing more important than to be clean, I think it's essential that we send a message.
"A tough sanction needs to be applied in the rarest of circumstances, i.e. where someone intentionally denies someone who maybe spent 20 to 25 years working for a place at an Olympic Games of their place."
"That is unacceptable and for which there is no place on the Olympic team.
"I will do everything in my power to make sure [the] eligibility bylaw stays in place with the support of athletes."
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