London 2012: Should Great Britain Take David Millar to the Olympics?
In the coming weeks, a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is expected to rule against the British Olympic Association's (BOA) decision to ban drug cheats from the Olympic Games for life.
This ruling could mean that athletes Dwain Chambers and David Millar will be able to compete at the Olympics this summer.
While Chambers has been the focal point for much of the discussion over the past few years, the sprinter is unlikely to have much of an impact on the games themselves, while Millar could be a vital part of Britain's cycling team.
Millar's inclusion is also down to the selectors and not subject to qualifying times.
Dave Brailsford has stated that he would consider selecting Millar if possible.
“My job is to pick the fastest team, the best team that can win that race in London,” said the performance director of British Cycling. “I will get shown a list of people who are eligible, then I will look at performance and decide."
On one hand, the BOA should be applauded for taking such a tough stance against drug cheats. On the other, having David Millar as part of the cycling team in London could have a major impact on Britain's medal chances.
With the current rule of a two-year ban for first-time offenders, a sportsman may serve their ban and then compete without missing a single Olympics, which doesn't seem harsh enough to many people.
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As British IOC member Sir Craig Reedie put it, "Morally, the BOA hold the high ground, and if you set the Olympics as a slightly special sporting event, many people would agree with that."
Missing out on competing at the world's biggest sporting event provides a strong deterrent to many who may otherwise be seduced by the idea of drugs.
The BOA also argue that they should be free to select whichever athletes they want.
This position is backed by the chairman of the London organising committee Lord Coe, who said “I think it is right for sporting organisations to have the autonomy to decide who they want to see in their teams.”
If the CAS rules in favour of banned athletes, should Millar be a part of the Olympic squad? Or should the BOA stick to their guns and omit him?
In purely competitive terms, the ruling would be great news for Britain's Olympic team, especially Mark Cavendish.
Millar is an excellent man to have at the front of the field. He can take long shifts at the front of the peloton to either bring back a break or stretch out the field before a sprint.
His leadership qualities should also not be underestimated.
He acted as the team captain for Great Britain last year when Cavendish took the title at the world championships in Denmark.
Should David Millar be included in Great Britain's Olympic squad?
Cavendish has come out in support of Millar, saying, "If we want to win the Olympic road race, we need Dave."
If selected, Millar will also be a likely feature in the time trial.
While the Scot is not the force he once was against the clock, he could still still spring a surprise.
His knowledge and feedback about the course could also be very valuable to the possible gold-medal attempt from fellow Brit Bradley Wiggins.
Looking at it from a purely competitive point of view, it is hard to argue that Millar shouldn't be in the squad.
However, from a sporting standpoint, the potential change could upset some athletes.
Track cyclist Chris Hoy is firmly against the ban being overturned, telling BBC Sport that, "If you are caught for taking drugs, then you will not be allowed to compete in the Olympic Games. That, to me, is a good incentive not to take drugs."
He continued by saying that athletes should say that, "we want to be part of a team that's clean."
This raises another issue with picking Millar.
Namibian sprinting legend Frankie Fredericks has suggested that British athletes could threaten to boycott the games.
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"It would be nice if the athletes can come out and say, 'OK even if CAS decides, Dwain Chambers and David Millar go to the Olympic Games, then we're not going to go. This is our bylaw. These are the values that we believe in,'" Fredericks said.
Of course, this scenario is very unlikely, but the fact that it has been suggested shows how deep the feelings run against drug chests.
However, it is has been a long time since Millar was banned for taking the blood-booster EPO in 2004 while riding for Cofidis.
Since that time, Millar has become a strong anti-doping campaigner and now sits on Wada's athletes panel.
The sport of cycling is still dogged by drug cheats. In the last month, we have heard about the latest chapter in the sad career of Ricardo Ricco.
The talented Italian has not ruined his career once, but twice.
He was taken to the hospital with reported kidney failure after performing a blood transfusion on himself.
This was after an initial 20-month ban after being thrown off the 2008 Tour De France after testing positive for EPO while riding for Saunier Duval.
Sadly, Ricco had not learned his lesson and his career is now over, while Millar's is a story of redemption.
With this in mind, shouldn't we be promoting riders like Millar?
What are your feelings on the potential end of the BOA's Olympic ban? Should Millar be allowed to compete in London? Comment below.
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