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Anti-doping law: BOA faces £200,000 legal bill in Chambers and Millar case

The British Olympic Association is facing up to a legal bill in excess of £200,000 after anticipating that it will lose its legal case against athletes Dwain Chambers and David Millar.

The case concerns the BOA's policy of lifetime Olympic bans for any athletes convicted of using performance-enhancing substances.

Both Chambers and cyclist Millar have served previous bans for doping, and now compete regularly in other competitions for Great Britain.

The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) declared the UK bylaw non-compliant with agreed global anti-doping policy, and took their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to have the BOA rule struck down.

The BOA, however, has defended its right to enforce a stricter rule within its own jurisdiction. The BOA rule says that although athletes may compete in other competitions, cheating with drugs precludes a British athlete from ever competing in another Olympic games.

The rule is not the same in other major countries around the world, who allow their athletes to compete in Olympics once their ban has been served.

The case is now with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, with a decision expected late next week or early the following week. However, reports coming for the BOA suggest that they are resigned to losing their fight.

Lord Coe is chairman of LOCOG, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and has repeatedly backed the BOA's right to set its own rules for British athletes.

"I think it is right for sporting organisations to have the autonomy to decide who they want to see in their teams," he said.

The costs of the case appears to be one of the other major issues, with both sides hiring extremely experienced sports lawyers to argue their cases, the costs are expected to run to £200,000.

The BOA ban looks vulnerable because the CAS has already ruled against a similar ban enforced previously by the International Olympics Committee which said that drugs cheats must miss at least one Olympics in addition to any nationally imposed ban. The CAS ruled that this was incompatible with the WADA Code.

It is thought that both athletes would make the British team if the ban i s overturned.

Related links:

Read more on the story (The Telegraph)

Drugs and crime (FindLaw)