Bryn Vaile remembers very clearly the emergence of the British Olympic Association's byelaw. It was initiated by competitors, not administrators, and he was one of them.
As a member of the formative BOA Athletes Commission, Vaile - a gold medallist in the 1988 Olympic Star sailing class - was among those responsible for getting the byelaw on the statute books on 25 March 1992. Along with Olympic swimming gold medallist Adrian Moorhouse, he argued its case successfully to the BOA executive committee - and he believes passionately that the byelaw should remain.
Moorhouse, Vaile and fellow members of the Athletes Commission felt that action needed to be taken to prevent doping offenders returning to represent their country in the Olympics, and had to overcome some opposition from within the BOA before they had their way.
"We looked into the legal position of restraint of trade," Vaile recalled yesterday. "But the way we saw it, this was not preventing people carrying on their careers - they could still compete in grand prix meetings or world championships."
Vaile, however, would like to see conditions become even more difficult for doping cheats. "I still believe that if you take performance-enhancing drugs, you should be banned for life," he said. "There should be no compromise to it, because that is compromising our futures. Every time a drugs cheat comes back to competition, it doesn't just tarnish the sport, and the people watching. It tarnishes the next generation, and it belittles every other clean athlete."
There is no doubt in Vaile's mind that Dwain Chambers does not deserve to return to the Olympic arena. It seems that view is held by the majority of current athletes.
The present incarnation of the BOA Athletes Commission - the British Athletes Commission - has surveyed athletes after each of the last three Olympics asking them, among other things, whether they support the byelaw. According to the BAC chief executive, Pete Gardener, the response in favour has always been 90 per cent or more.
The BOA also believes its position is validated by the International …