HAYWARD, Calif. -- Dwain Chambers will be studying pass patterns and playbooks instead of competing against the world's top sprinters in the Olympics this weekend.
The British sprinter, the European 100-meter champion who
finished fourth in the world championships last year, is getting
ready for the football season at Chabot Junior College in Hayward
instead of preparing for the Olympics in Athens.
Chambers was suspended earlier this year for testing positive
for THG, the designer steroid at the center of the controversy
surrounding the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative scandal. But
instead of moping around while missing the Olympics, Chambers has
turned his attention to another goal -- playing football.
"You can do one of two things: Learn to get on with it or go
jump off a bridge," Chambers told the Oakland Tribune in a story
published Tuesday. "I have too much talent and too much want to
succeed to do that."
Chambers' sprinter speed -- he once ran the 100 in 9.87 seconds -- is a big asset on the football field and has his new teammates excited about the opportunity.
"I heard a lot about [his past]," quarterback Houston Lillard
said. "But anybody playing quarterback, who hears there is a dude
coming to his school as a receiver and is the fourth fastest person
in the world, all you are thinking about is, I can't wait for him
Chambers passed up a chance to try out for a team in NFL Europe and said he talked to Raiders personnel chief Michael Lombardi about trying out for the team he cheered for while training in the Bay Area.
But he needed to learn the sport first and former coach Remi
Korchemny got him in touch with the coaches at Chabot. Korchemny is one of four men indicted by a San Francisco grand jury that
"I showed an interest a few months back, and Remi made contact with the coaches, and told them I had an interest in joining the
team and learning the right way as opposed to the fast way,"
The coaches have to start from scratch teaching Chambers
football -- the American version instead of the one played in
"You take things for granted when you talk to kids in
America," coach Danny Calcagno said. "Things like yard lines, the
goal line. The whole object is to put this ball across this line
for six points. We are going to take baby steps with him."
Chambers tested positive for THG last summer and was handed a two-year ban by track and field's governing body on Feb. 24. He declined to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The 26-year-old sprinter blamed his positive THG test on
nutritional supplements he said were provided by BALCO.
"My nutritionist says take something, I am not questioning
him," Chambers said. "He had a lot of good references without one
regrettable question in him. They were all taking it and none of
them had been in trouble, why would I think otherwise."
Several other athletes were targeted in the BALCO probe,
including two-time world champion sprinter Kelli White, who was
also suspended from the Olympics. U.S. doping officials also
charged Tim Montgomery, holder of the world record in the 100, who didn't qualify for the Olympics.
"I got caught up in something that I had no idea would escalate the way it did," Chambers said. "We are all collateral damage
now. They went after one person, but we all got caught up in the
The IAAF said all of Chambers' performances would be annulled from the date of his positive test -- Aug. 1, 2003. The
out-of-competition test took place during training in Germany.
Chambers' ban lasts until Nov. 6, 2005. Under British Olympic Association rules, he also is banned for life from the Olympics.
"For what it is worth, I am grateful for what happened to me,
because it opened my eyes to so much," Chambers said. "I have
looked at myself in the mirror, seen other people, seen my family
... I have seen my friends walk away from me."