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Chambers begins quest for 100-meter European title

SHARE Chambers begins quest for 100-meter European title

GOTEBORG, Sweden — Dwain Chambers eased through the first qualifying round in the 100 meters at the European Championships on Monday in his quest to reclaim the title he lost because of doping.

The British sprinter got off to a fast start and won his heat in 10.24 seconds despite easing off in the last 20 meters. It was the fastest time in the first round of qualifying on the opening day of the weeklong championship.

"It was good. Great surface. I didn't expect a better run. It's only qualification, the next run will be faster," Chambers said.

Francis Obikwelu of Portugal, who was awarded the 100 title after Chambers' doping suspension, won his heat in 10.25. Obikwelu is seeking to become the first man since Italy's Pietro Mennea in 1978 to earn the European sprint double (100 and 200).

Ronald Pognon of France won his heat in 10.26.

"I was very relaxed and did not force myself too much. I feel very good and the little hamstring problems I had are gone today," Pognon said. "I do not like the way the starter starts: he takes way too long. The track on the other hand is great — it responds very well."

There were several false starts and delays in the heats.

Chambers was stripped of his European 100 and 400-relay titles after testing positive for the steroid THG in November 2003.

Chambers was banned for two years and had all his personal and team results from January 2002 to August 2003 annulled.

Chambers' winning time of 9.96 in the 100 at the 2002 European Championships in Munich, Germany, was stricken from the books. Obikwelu was given the gold with a time of 10.06.

A Chambers-anchored British 400-relay team was also stripped of its crown, which was given to runner-up Ukraine.

The sprinter returns amid a new doping scandal shaking the sport, following the disclosure that Olympic champion Justin Gatlin — the world record co-holder in the 100 — tested positive for testosterone or other steroids.

Eunice Barber of France pulled out of the heptathlon after two events with a thigh injury.

Barber was leading Swedish star Carolina Kluft by 36 points.

"I feel cramps ... it has really disturbed me. I'll meet with my physiotherapist and see what we can do. I really want to go through with the event, but it is bad," Barber said after the high jump in the morning.

Kluft had complained about a hamstring injury and looked tentative in her first two events. The Swede hasn't lost a heptathlon competition in five years.