Britain select two former drug offenders
LONDON (Reuters) - Sprinter Dwain Chambers and shot putter Carl Myerscough, who have served doping bans after testing positive for anabolic steroids, were named on Tuesday in the British athletics team for the London Olympics.
The pair are the beneficiaries of a Court of Arbitration ruling which overturned the British Olympic Association's lifetime Games bans for drug offenders.
Neither athlete was present at a news conference at the team's headquarters near the Olympic Park and chef de mission Andy Hunt had a diplomatic answer ready when he was questioned about their selection.
"We always said that once the by-law fell away, any athlete who is eligible to compete for Team GB would be welcomed into the team," he said.
"There is no two-tier team, we will absolutely treat every athlete in the same way. We'll give every athlete the same support and I expect every athlete in a similar way to commit to being part of Team GB and everything that stands for.
"We will embrace any athlete, including those you've named, into the team. They were welcomed into the team and will be given the best support and hopefully achieve the best performance possible. I'm very happy about that."
Seventy-one athletes were named on Tuesday in addition to the six marathon runners who had already been selected in the largest British track and field team since the Barcelona Olympics 20 years ago.
It includes Olympic women's 400 metres champion Christine Ohuruogu, world champions Mo Farah (5,000 metres) and Dai Greene (400 metres hurdles) and Olympic triple jump silver medallist and former world champion Phillips Idowu.
Scot Lynsey Sharp, winner of the British trials, was given the sole position in the women's 800 metres.
Sharp has achieved the B qualifying standard only and her selection meant there was no room under International Association of Athletics Federation rules for three athletes who have achieved the A standard.
They include former world bronze medallist Jenny Meadows who has not competed since last year's world championships because of injury.
Head coach Charles Van Commenee said the debate over the women's 800 had occupied two of the six hours of discussion.
"We decided that Lynsey Sharp is the one with the best current form," he said.
Meadows has already indicated she will appeal.
Van Commenee said the selectors had chosen what they regarded as the strongest team rather than the largest. He also counselled caution when asked if he was confident the team would reach his target of eight medals from the Games.
"The word confidence suggests we are certain, in sport I have learned that doesn't exist," he said. "There's a lot of opposition in the arena and they are taking it seriously as well.
"We have some strong athletes, it's possible but to say I have confidence is to go too far."
The Olympics start on July 27.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)
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