The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) today formally declared the British Olympic Association's lifetime ban for drugs cheats non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) code, opening the door for sprinter Dwain Chambers and cyclist David Millar to be chosen by Team GB for the London 2012 Games.
Chambers and Millar were both banned for doping offences in 2004. Chambers was handed a two-year suspension for the use of 'designer steroid' tetrahydrogestrinone (THG). Millar was also banned for two years after admitting taking the blood booster EPO.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) wanted the BOA to fall in line with its doping code which provides for a maximum two-year ban for a first offence.
BOA chairman Colin Moynihan declared his association deeply disappointed by a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling that the maximum punishment for a first offence could only be a two-year ban.
He said: "The BOA are clearly very disappointed in the outcome. No doubt for athletes, for coaches and administrators and others in international sport who want to see greater progress in the fight against doping, this will be seen as a hollow victory for WADA.
Lord Moynihan said that Chambers and Millar, if they met the eligibility criteria and were selected for London 2012 as looks likely, would be treated no differently to any other British squad member.
"There will be no two-tier team," he said. "I will give absolutely maximum support to every athlete that is selected for Team GB."
WADA said that Britain, as a signatory to its code, had to abide by its worldwide policy.
WADA president John Fahey said: "CAS has ruled that the BOA by-law imposing a lifetime ban from the Olympic Games is an extra sanction and is therefore non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code."
He said WADA regretted the "many hysterical and inaccurate public statements from the BOA in the course of challenging the WADA decision".
"WADA has spent the last decade harmonizing the fight against doping in sport across the world by creating one set of rules in consultation and in accordance with the wishes of all its stakeholders, both sport and government," Fahey added. "In order to achieve this harmonization, the rules have had to be proportionate and respectful of the rights of individuals within the framework of international law. They are not based on emotive arguments or the wishes of any one signatory or individual."
Dwain Chambers' agent also blasted the BOA, referring to their "colonial arrogance", after the sprinter's lifetime Olympic ban was ruled illegal by the CAS.
In a statement, Siza Agha said: "In my view as hosts for the 2012 Olympics, this delicate and emotive issue required international diplomacy, foresight and responsibility," Siza Agha, who is also a barrister, said in a statement.
"What we have received has been a crude and defiant display fuelled by misguided statements such as 'We have standards and the rest of the world doesn't'."
"It has in my view been an exposure of colonial arrogance that even the most extreme and blinkered should have realised could only serve to marginalise British opinion on the international stage," Agha, who is also a barrister, added. "In complete contrast, WADA have in my view been the model of professionalism and dignity in the face of the most extreme provocation. Lessons should be learned by their example."
Chambers, 34, was given his lifetime Olympic ban, and a two-year ban from athletics, in 2003 after he was found to have used the anabolic steroid tetrahydrogestrinone, or THG. He made a comeback to the sport and, despite being ostracised from Europe's leading athletics meetings, won 60 metres gold at the European and world indoor championships in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
London Games chairman Sebastian Coe had said Chambers should not be allowed to compete in the Olympics, but track rivals Asafa Powell of Jamaica and American Justin Gatlin, who himself served a four-year ban for doping, said they had no problem lining up against him.
Agha said Chambers needed time to reflect on CAS's ruling on Monday. He added: "Having not been party to the CAS case, Dwain and I will now need to take time to privately digest and consider the reasoning behind the decision. At this stage there will be no further comment on this or any related topic."