By Duncan Mackay - 21 March 2009

I am currently in Berlin covering the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council meeting, which is being held in the Inter Continental hotel and its feels like I have been transported back in time.


That is because the last time the Council met in this city was at this very hotel in October 2003 and top of the agenda then was Dwain Chambers. A couple of weeks previously I had exclusively revealed the news that the British sprinter had tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid THG and his name was on the lips of everyone in the sport.


Fast forward six years and nothing has changed, it appears. The question in the hotel lobby everyone - from Sebastian Coe, who is a vice-president of the IAAF to the journalists covering the meeting - is: "How do you solve a problem like Dwain?" His newly published book, Race Against Me, has been like a hand grenade dropped on the sport.


The lurid description about the extent of his drug-taking in the years between 2001 and 2003, and how easily he avoided detection have upset many. So have his allegations that half the United States team that competed in the Olympics at Beijing last year had either taken drugs or were still using them. Then there are the personal attacks on leading figures like Coe, Colin Moynihan and Niels de Vos.


altHe has certainly not set out to win friends and influence people. Which is fine - this is after all his story and his version of what happened - except that Chambers still wants to have a future in the sport. And it is therefore no surprise that those people running athletics are not exactly falling over themselves to help him achieve that.


The IAAF are particularly upset because they feel that they have done everything they can to help rehabilitate the disgraced Briton. Lamine Diack, the organisation's President, even spoke out on behalf of Chambers last year when UK Athletics were trying to freeze him out and they have allowed him the opportunity to give back the prize and appearance money he fraudlently won while he was taking drugs on a pay as he earns basis.


Their argument is if Chambers, as he keeps claiming, now wants to be a force for good why does he keep conjuring up such unhelpful headlines for a sport that is struggling to retain the hearts and minds of the public, jaded by so many drugs scandals involving its heroes?


The final straw was insidethegames' story last week that Chambers has resumed a working relationship with Victor Conte, the man who had supplied him with the cocktail of drugs in the first place. Chambers claims that they are determined to put right what they did wrong and are now working on a revolutionary new technique that involves him alternately breathing low and high oxygen air through a hypoxicator in a techinque that causes the body to begin creating its own Erythropoietin (EPO), the hormone that stimulates red blood cell production.


People are naturally suspicious of how Chambers is now managing to run faster now than he did before when he had enough rocket fuel in his body to power him to the moon. No other athlete coming back from a drugs ban has managed that before so it is natural that people want to know how come Chambers can do it. He can have no complaints about that, especially now he has again started working with Conte.


The ironic thing is, that the amount of people here who have actually read the book that has got Chambers into so much new trouble, is a very small minority indeed. Coe, for example, whose private life is the subject of so many pages had not seen a copy until I showed him mine. I hope that the money Chambers received for writing the book is worth the aggravation it is now causing him.


The only thing we can certain of is Dwain Chambers' name will still be on people's lips for a while yet.


Duncan Mackay is the publisher and editor of He was the 2004 British Sports Journalist of the Year and was the athletics correspondent of The Guardian for 11 years. He was the writer that exposed Dwain Chambers as a drugs cheat

Dwain ought to understand that if you do a kiss 'n tell you can't
then expect to cuddle up with the one you have kissed and told
By Tanya Mills, Glasgow

21 March 2009 at 13:20pm

I met the guy and bought the book. Having sat on the fence for a
while, I was completely won over by Dwain. He is totally
approachable and upfront and the book is a revelation in more
ways than one! I think the hypocrisy with which Dwain has been
treated, while others have been given the wink-wink-nudge-nudge
treatment is disgraceful. He is a phenomenal athlete and a nice
guy who made a bad mistake but one that he's learned much from
and moved on, which is more than you can say for his critics. I
look forward to see him competing again soon.
By Dwain fan, St Albans

21 March 2009 at 13:51pm

One thing that has come to the foreground for me is the level of
hypocrisy and dissembling in the sport. Chambers has become a
whipping post , while others have slipped quietly under the
radar. UK Athletics have conveniently turned a blind eye to these
athletes, while continuing to wipe their feet on Chambers. What
happened to equity and fairness of treatment? I bought the book -
it's a real eye-opener.
By Kris, Bristol

21 March 2009 at 16:21pm

I read Dwain's book and found it to be thought-provoking. It does
make you look at things with different eyes. It seems to me that
they are preparing to shoot the messenger because they don't like
the news he is telling them.
By Jon Bailey, Birmingham

21 March 2009 at 16:55pm

Perhaps if the press stopped writing about Dwain Chambers drugs
at every opportunity they get it might not be such a big story.
Then we could all get on with it.
By Wolfgang Kuntz, Zurich

22 March 2009 at 08:34am

If Diack doesn't want Chambers to associate with Conte why
doesn't he just ban him? Surely that is in his power. This circus
is getting very boring now and I agree with Wolfgang that it is
being fuelled by the press.
By Marti Dibteth, Sydney

22 March 2009 at 19:22pm

Sadly, it appears we now watch sport for entertainment and to be
amazed - perhaps we don't really want to know the magician's
secrets or that our films/opening ceremonies (?!) rely on
"performace enhancement" aka special effects.

We still want to believe in heroes and those who can beat the
odds. Perhaps that is why there is a ground swell of popular
opinion behind Dwain - he has become the representative of
"everyman". The flawed hero that the establishment have come to
"hate" who in spite of all that is thrown at him keeps on going.

Perhaps their worst nightmare is that he keeps winning not only
races but newspaper copy.

Conte or not, let him compete, pay his dues to the IAAF and
either prove that it can be done clean - a win. Or simply lose
enough races so that the situation will go away for the
establishment (another win?)

Time to put the pin back in the grenade - the only explosion
should be on the track.
By Dr Rob Dawson

23 March 2009 at 19:18pm