David Millar has been given hope of competing at London 2012 after American athlete LaShawn Merritt saw his Olympic ban overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
CAS ruled against an International Olympic Committee law that prevents any athlete who has received a doping ban of more than six months from competing in the next summer or winter Games.
CAS said in a statement that IOC rule 45 was “invalid and unenforceable” as it amounted to a second sanction which took Merritt’s ban beyond two years, the maximum length sanctioned by the World Anti-Doping Authority for using performance-enhancing drugs.
The decision may lead to a change in a British Olympic Association by-law which currently imposes a lifetime Olympic ban on those with doping convictions, including Millar, who admitted to using EPO in 2004, and sprinter Dwain Chambers, who unsuccessfully challenged the by-law in 2008.
Millar refused to comment on his future but said the BOA should abide by the WADA Code, which was introduced in 2004 to unify doping rules around the globe.
“The WADA Code sets the standard in sport and it is one that all national governing bodies should operate under,” said Millar in a statement.
“Whatever the sport may be, from playing with a ball on a pitch, running in lanes on a track, or even racing bicycles through our city streets, each competitor should be subject to the same rules.
“This is not to help the person who cheats or errs, it is there to protect the athletes who respect the rules. Each time those athletes step into competition they need to know that everybody they compete against is held accountable to one code.
“Every doping case is different, as is every human being, we must not forget this. We expect fairness to be an integral part of the sports we watch, and yet fairness can be hard to find in the punishments of those athletes who make mistakes. A lifetime ban for a first offence does not encourage rehabilitation nor education, two things that are necessary for the future prevention of doping in sport.
“I hope this decision will pave the way for the development of global sports, and to creating a system that all athletes and sports fans can understand and believe in.”
Merritt, who won 400m gold in Beijing, was banned for 21 months in 2009 after testing positive for a stimulant found in a “male enhancement product”. The 25-year-old returned to claim 400m silver and 4x400m gold at this summer’s World Athletics Championships in South Korea.
The decision comes after Travis Tygart, chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, called for the BOA to scrap its policy.
“Once you set the rules and the world agrees to them, you ought to play by those rules,” Tygart told BBC Sport.
“Let’s not go outside (the Wada) process, like the BOA has, and have a rule that supersedes the rules we’ve all signed up to as the final word on what the sanctions should be.
“If we want lifetime bans – and that could be the right thing to do to protect clean athletes – let’s do it via Wada so that it applies to every country.
“Let’s have that discussion about increased sanctions but you cannot have one country doing it when everybody else doesn’t.”
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