Chambers looking for last Olympic stand

March 01, 2012, 7 p.m. (ET)

GHENT, Belgium (AP) Dressed in charcoal black, Dwain Chambers looked the part of a villain.

Not that the kids at a Belgian sprinting clinic noticed.

Once one of sport's most infamous doping cheats, Chambers was consumed with teaching the young racers the best setup in the blocks - for the toes, for the heel. He tries to live in the here and now as much as he can.

In the twilight of a once-stellar sprint career, the main thing left to chase is a final shot at Olympic redemption. It could come at the London Games, but so far his country, the host, is unable to forgive. At 33, participating would be as big a victory for Chambers as winning on the track.

“My time is limited in the sport now, I only have a short window left,” he said.

“If the door of opportunity opens, it will be an honor to perform in front of the British crowd,” he said after the clinic. There was no sense of bitterness in his voice, no self pity.

Britain alone among nations has a lifetime Olympic Games ban for doping offenders - no matter what remorse is shown or change a life takes. The ban is defended by the British Olympic Association, backed by the government, and even Sebastian Coe, the chief organizer of the London Games.

Still, Chambers is not giving up and has the unlikeliest of allies - the World Anti-Doping Agency. All this despite being a key player in one of the most notorious doping scandals of the past dozen years.

The BALCO scandal in the United States enveloped several top-level athletes, including Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery and baseball slugger Barry Bonds, and raised doping suspicions among track fans for years about anyone who had a sudden surge in form or posted extraordinary results.

Chambers served a two-year ban after testing positive for the THG designer steroid in 2003.

He doesn't fudge the issue.

“I am a prime example of what not to do, but at the same time there is life after mistakes,” he said. “It's happened and I just have to be honest about the situation.”

After serving his time, Chambers came back to compete and was only grudgingly accepted by his fellow athletes. Major meets would ostracize him. Yet, he excelled again and is even the defending 60 meters gold medalist going into next week's world indoor championship in Istanbul, Turkey.

It makes it for a difficult relationship with the British federation. On the one hand, he carries the flag for Britain in some championships, on the other, he cannot compete in the first home Olympics in 64 years.

It is especially difficult to deal with when Olympic fever grips the nation. “I cannot think too far ahead,” he said. “But don't get me wrong, because it is on television all the time.”

He could take a big step toward the London Olympic Stadium as soon as the day after the defense of his indoor title, when there is a hearing of the Court of Arbitration for Sport that involves his case. The British Olympic Association appealing a WADA ruling that Britain's lifetime Olympic ban for doping cheats amounts to a second sanction and violates global doping rules. The BOA maintains it is not a sanction, but an eligibility issue.

CAS has already ruled once on a similar case. Last October, the court rejected an International Olympic Committee rule which barred athletes from the next games if they had been banned for more than six months for doping. The court decided that rule amounted to double jeopardy.

A verdict in the BOA vs WADA appeal is expected in April and many give Chambers a good chance of success after the earlier ruling.

Chambers is already happy he does not have to carry the burden of the legal process himself and is only a bystander. It is tough to acknowledge even a glimmer of hope - that much he's learned over time. “I don't count my chickens until they are hatched,” he said.

It is a sense of realism he was ill-prepared for when he burst onto the international scene as a world junior record holder for the 100, then finished one place outside the medals at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney when he was 22.

Cocky, as many sprinters can be, he thought rules no longer applied to him.

Now, he just laughs at the dozen years that have gone by. “It's been a long time and I still have not got gray hairs yet,” he said. “So I guess I am doing something right.”

He does, however, seem to be slowing down.

Going into Istanbul, he is the 17th-ranked competitor in the 60 meters, which does not bode well for his title defense. In Ghent, he sought to improve on his time of 6.58 seconds but slumped to 6.70 instead.

It does not keep him from hoping something special might still happen in London. “In my mind, I wake up with dreams and ambitions, just like every other athlete does,” he said.

He does realize though, he will never be considered like “every other athlete.”

Still, the kids huddling around him during the clinic in Ghent weren't there to ask about doping. They wanted to learn from his real tricks of the trade, how to get the best flexibility from leg whip exercises on the floor, listening to a cheerful man and who seemed fully at peace with himself.

“You have to be disciplined,” he told them, “and make many sacrifices.”