Sunday, 30 March 2008

Dwainage problems

The story of the weekend is, for me, the fact that disgraced 30 year old British sprinter, Dwain Chambers, is set to make a somewhat bizarre career switch by taking up rugby league with the Castleford Tigers who currently lie bottom of the Super League.

Just to remind you - Chambers, this year's World Indoor silver medallist over 60 metres, served a two-year ban from 2003 to 2005 after testing positive for the designer steroid Tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), and is banned for life by the British Olympic Association from competing in the Olympics. There's been talk of him challenging the ban in the courts but, being somewhat strapped for cash, it looks like he’s looking to Castleford to provide a financial lifeline, having been shunned by athletics promoters across Europe and having been required to repay a shedload of prize money won during the period when, by his own admission, he was a drugs cheat.

From Castleford’s point of view this can be nothing more than a publicity stunt - perhaps designed to achieve maximum exposure at the time when they are seeking to renew their Super League licence (or am I being a tad too cynical?). They can't actually believe he'd be any good, can they? Chambers is undoubtedly like shit off a shovel in terms of speed but is starting from scratch in terms of positioning, tackling and handling. He does have some experience with an oval ball of sorts, having last year signed a deal with the NFL Europe franchise the Hamburg Sea Devils, but he didn’t play a single game for the club - a scenario which, I suspect, is likely to repeat itself with Castleford.

Various deluded rugby league followers have commented on various message boards that that Chambers has all the attributes which are vital in Rugby League – pace, power and strength for example – but, seriously, if that’s all it takes then it really doesn’t say very much for their sport.

Call me a cynic, but I’m convinced that Castleford are merely using Chambers as a pawn in their efforts to remain in the Super League, whilst Chambers is either just desperate for a pay packet or realises that it’s only a matter of time before the athletics drugs testing regime catches up with him once more.

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