Mystery surrounds Chambers over change in career
By David Powell, Athletics Correspondent
The future of Dwain Chambers as an international sprinter was in doubt again last night after he was said by American football officials to have flown to Germany in a renewed attempt to seek a career in the sport.
Yet sources close to Chambers said that they knew nothing of such intentions.
Dave Collins, the Great Britain athletics performance director, said: “It is news to me and I would be very surprised.” Collins said that he had spoken last week to Chambers, who returned to action in the summer after a two-year ban.
Cubie Seegobin, Chambers’s manager, who is based in California, was dismissive of the suggestion. “I do not know anything about it and I would have known,” Seegobin said. “It is a surprise to me. Dwain is supposed to show up in Jamaica for training in a week or so.”
However, American football officials were not only insistent that Chambers, 28, was in Germany to seek a place with a team in NFL Europa, but they issued comments from the athlete in which he said that the sport was “a serious option for me at the moment”.
Also caught by surprise was John Trower, the Britain senior performance manager for sprints. “I can match what Dave Collins said — I know nothing,” Trower said. However, Chambers was further quoted saying: “American football has interested me for a long time and I am excited to see what opportunities might be there for me in the sport.”
Chambers made a startling return to the track this year by recording 10.07sec in the British Grand Prix 100 metres in Gateshead in June, but it proved a false dawn as he failed to regain his European Cup crown and finished only seventh in the European Championships in Gothenburg.
Although Chambers helped Britain to win their only gold medal in Gothenburg, in the 4 x 100 metres relay, the celebrations were tarnished when Darren Campbell, another member of the quartet, complained at Chambers’ inclusion.
While the scale of the task facing Chambers grew as the season wore on, so the temptation to turn his back on the sport must have increased. His view may have been coloured by the aspect of his punishment, which requires him to pay prize-money that he owes out of future track earnings.
Chambers was said to be in Germany to take part in trials this week. If successful, he would be allocated to one of the six teams who play in NFL Europa. Amsterdam Admirals, Berlin Thunder, Cologne Centurions, Frankfurt Galaxy, Hamburg Sea Devils and Rhein Fire are preparing for 2007.
The season runs from spring into early summer, making it incompatible with training for the athletics season. “There have been people who have swung from one [sport] to the other and back, but doing it in one year, I do not think so,” Collins said.
“I spoke to Dwain last week, we had a conversation about next season and he expressed his intention to be going for at least the outdoor season. That, to me, was pretty clear. I am very surprised because my understanding was that Dwain was committed to athletics.”
However, American football sources indicated that Chambers would be trying out at wide receiver and cornerback. NFL Europa operates as a feeder league for the NFL in the United States. During his (absence from the track) in 2004, Chambers had a shortlived spell with a college team in San Francisco.
According to Tony Allen, the director of international player development for NFL Europa, Chambers remains “a very interesting prospect . . . somebody we wanted to take a much closer look at this week.”
David Tossell, the director of public affairs for NFL International, which runs NFL affairs outside the United States, said that Chambers was at a training camp in Cologne. The best of those would go to an NFL Europa training camp in Tampa, Florida, in March, from which selection for the six teams takes place.