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Thu 14 Feb 2008 02:53 AM

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UK drugs cheats could face life ban

Anti-doping policy under review after Dwain Chambers selected to represent country, UK Athletics says.

UK Athletics (UKA) on Thursday launched a review of its anti-doping policy that could result in athletes who are caught using performance-enhancing drugs being banned from representing Great Britain for life.

The review, which will be conducted by an advocate of lifetime bans, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, was announced a day after UKA reluctantly agreed to select sprinter Dwain Chambers for next month's World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain.

Chambers served a two-year ban for using the banned anabolic steroid tetrahydrogestrinone (THG) up to 2006 and, after a failed attempt to convert to American football, is now trying to rebuild his track career.

He had threatened legal action if he was excluded from the Great Britain team after winning last weekend's 60m race at the national trials.

Announcing the review, UKA Chief Executive Niels de Vos said: "Athletics must act now, and must act decisively, to strengthen its own ability to select the athletes it wants to select.

"Representing Great Britain must remain a privilege and not a right and the review will ensure the sport never finds itself in such a position again".

Grey-Thompson, who has won 11 gold medals over the course of five Paralympics, said the review would look at whether lifetime bans could be introduced without infringing British or European law, or the regulations of the world athletics' governing body, the IAAF, and the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA).

She added: "My mandate is clear and I believe the time is right for UKA to play a leading role in driving change through athletics to ensure that drug offenders cannot walk back into our sport unchallenged and untested".

Chambers meanwhile insisted that he was now drug free and deserved the chance to the continue his career.

"I'm being made to feel like a leper," the 29-year-old sprinter told The Sun newspaper. "A terrible stigma has been attached to me but people need to know I am clean".

"Yes, I did something wrong. I did the crime - but I've done my time and now I've moved on".

De Vos had attempted to have Chambers barred from the Great Britain team on the grounds he has not been subject to UKA's doping control regime for the last year.

The governing body also expressed concern about the signal that the inclusion of Chambers would send out and the fact that his presence would deny another sprinter a place on the team and the opportunity to gain experience in the run up to the Beijing Olympics.

Under the rules of the British Olympic Association, Chambers is not eligible for selection for the Games in the Chinese capital in August.

"Other people are allowed to get on with their lives once they have served a punishment - so why can't I get on with mine?" Chambers told The Sun.

"I respect people have opinions about me and they are entitled to those. I'm not going to get into a slanging match with them. But they should remember I'm only doing what I'm legally entitled to do.

"I have a lot to prove but all I want to do is let my legs do all the talking".

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