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Athletics: Chief says bans too soft.

UK ATHLETICS chief executive Nils de Vos has blasted the soft treatment of drugs cheats -claiming a mandatory two-year ban is akin to suffering a serious injury.

De Vos is seeking a hardening of the rules after the furore surrounding the return of Dwain Chambers to top-level competition, and is hopeful the affair can provide the catalyst for change.

While Chambers seems certain to have to appeal directly to the High Court against his lifetime Olympic ban, De Vos has voiced his dissatisfaction at the comparative brevity of the two-year suspension enforced by UKA under mandatory World Anti-Doping Agency policy.

The British Olympic Association provisionally dismissed Chambers' hopes of competing in the Beijing Games this summer when stating he had missed last Friday's deadline for lodging his appeal - and even if submitting a plea of mitigation, he seems unlikely to be cleared by an arbitration panel after testing positive for the steroid tetrahydrogestrinone (THG) in 2003.

De Vos, meanwhile, senses a toughening of attitudes in athletics against drugs cheats and believes Chambers' case will increase the pace of change.

"The reason there has been this outrage is that the sport recognises that a two-year ban was a significant own goal," he said.

"There is a hardening of attitudes across athletics. It is not about him - it is an issue for the whole sport.

"Two years is no worse than a serious cruciate ligament injury. Whether a four-year ban is enough is debatable."

In the absence of any announcement today from Chambers' Leeds-based lawyers Ford and Warren that they sent a letter on their client's behalf - before the deadline - reserving an option to appeal, he seems sure to instead require a High Court ruling.

A BOA spokeswoman said the organisation had received no correspondence from Chambers.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Article Type:Medical condition overview
Date:Feb 19, 2008
Words:299
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