LONDON // The British sprinter Dwain Chambers admitted today he would have continued taking banned performance-enhancing drugs if he had not failed a doping test in 2003. The former European champion was the first high-profile victim of the BALCO scandal when he tested positive for the previously undetectable steroid THG manufactured and distributed by the California laboratory. At a doping symposium hosted by the London law firm Charles Russell, Chambers was asked if he would have still been on a drugs regime devised by BALCO founder Victor Conte if scientists had not found a test for THG.
"Pretty much, more than likely," Chambers replied. "I'm glad it (the positive test) happened when it happened because I have no idea of what would have happened to my health." The 30-year-old Chambers, who has returned to competition since completing a two-year ban in 2006, failed last July to overturn a British Olympic Association (BOA) ban from this year's Beijing Olympics. The BOA bans any athlete who has failed a drugs test from competing from competing in future Games.
"When I went to America it wasn't as if I went to America to look for drugs," Chambers said. "That was never my intention. I was approached. "You totally forget about your own natural ability to win. That's a road you don't even want to go down because it's financially costly and at any given chance you're busted and put at risk all your hard work. "All my hard work from when I was 14 until 22 has now been forgotten now. That's because of the advice of Victor Conte."
Conte was sentenced to four months in prison and four months home detention for steroid distribution after a federal investigation into the BALCO laboratory. Chambers said he would not wish anybody to experience the agony he had gone through since the positive test. "What I found hard were the constant whispers, people looking at me differently as though I was the devil," he said. "It's not nice, it's hard, even though I knew there was a chance of me being caught but I never realised the punishments, I was never aware it was going to be this harsh, never."