The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has ruled that the
British Olympic Association’s lifetime ban for sanctioned dopers does not adhere to the
World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code.

The ruling means that the BOA will have to drop its byelaw that currently prohibits any British athlete sanctioned for a doping infringement being barred from ever competing in the Olympic Games.

The decision paves the way for cyclist David Millar and runner Dwain Chambers to compete for Britain at the 2012 Olympic Games in London this summer – if they qualify and are selected by the relevant sporting body.

In a statement issued on Monday, CAS said: “The Bye-Law is a doping sanction and is therefore not in compliance with the WADA Code. The CAS confirms the view of the WADA Foundation Board as indicated in its Decision. Therefore, the appeal of BOA is rejected, and the Decision of the WADA Foundation Board is confirmed.” 

Critics of the decision have branded it a step backwards in the fight against doping in sport. CAS made it clear that its decision was based on adherence to regulations, and underlined that is is behind a “worldwide harmonised and consistent fight against doping in sport”.

Millar was handed a two-year suspension in 2004 for his admission to using banned blood booster EPO. If the BOA is forced to change its policy, then the Scot could be selected to ride in the road race in support of Mark Cavendish.

Millar, who is currently recovering from a broken collarbone, has recently expressed some reservations about taking part in the Olympic Games. “I’ve nailed myself to a few crosses and I’m not sure if I’m prepared to go for the final big one on this,” he told BBC Radio Scotland in March.

British Cycling, who are repsonsible for picking the London 2012 cycling squad, published a statement on Monday afternoon in reaction to the CAS decision: “Our team for the Games is being selected in June and across all disciplines we’ll pick the team based on which riders are fit and available, and who we believe have the best chance to deliver medals. Ahead of that we won’t be speculating on who may or may not be selected.”

WADA had ruled in November last year that the BOA’s ‘eligibility byelaw’ violates its World Anti-Doping Code as it sanctions athletes twice for the same offence. BOA argues that it is not a second sanction, but a matter of eligibility.

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BOA’s lifetime Olympic ban for doping violates WADA code