Dwain Chambers and David Millar had long presumed that the door to the Olympic Games was glued shut.

However, a meeting in London tomorrow could offer the pair an unexpected entry pass. When the Court of Arbitration for Sport consider the legality of the UK's sanctions on drug offenders, they have the power to eliminate the coda of life bans for those caught subverting the system.

The British Olympic Association maintain they have the right to deny selection to those who, like Chambers and Miller, have been branded cheats. The World Anti-Doping Agency, supposedly the moral guardians of drug-free sport, have ruled to the contrary. Hence, two sets of lawyers will plead their respective cases. It is widely expected that the BOA's by-law, introduced more than 20 years ago, will be deemed unenforceable.

For many admirers of the UK's definitive stance, a decision to give precedence to Wada's preferred two-year suspension would be an acknowledgement of defeat. "If there is going to be a ban from the Olympics, they have to be banned for life," argues Allan Wells, the 1980 100 metres gold medallist. "The Olympics is the thing everyone wants to run in and do well in. In some ways, they have to fear something that's going to be there for the rest of their lives."

Redemption is, however, available in other spheres of life. Since returning to the sport, Chambers has cut a contrite figure, winning the forgiveness of many team-mates who shunned him in the wake of his positive test for the anabolic steroid THG in 2003. Younger athletes talk of his generosity in helping them deal with being in the spotlight.

Millar has also sought penance. The cyclist, punished following a French investigation into the use of doping, has become a vocal opponent of performance enhancing drugs. His stance has courted favour. "A second chance is one of those values we should uphold in every sphere of life, not least sport," affirms the 2000 Olympic triple jump champion Jonathan Edwards. "You learn from your mistakes."

A member of the International Olympic Committee's Athletes Commission, Edwards has led a not-always vocal minority who have rallied against permanent exclusion. Wada's two years is not enough, he declares, but there must be a middle ground.

"If it was four years, that would be a real deterrent," he says. "You'd have to be incredibly committed as an athlete to want to serve a four-year ban and then come back. You miss one complete Olympic cycle, which is what the IOC rule was intended to do before it was overturned."

That occurred when American athlete LaShawn Merritt won a legal challenge that cleared him to defend his 400 metres title in London. Once the IOC had lost absolute control over their own showpiece, it was almost inevitable that the walls would come crashing down. Chambers has already been tailoring his preparations for the Olympics. He should gain selection through the trials in June. Millar will be a vital cog in the British team who will attempt to propel Mark Cavendish to the road racing crown.

If CAS rule as anticipated when their deliberations are revealed next month, there will be no further appeals. Everyone, Wells acknowledges, must move on. "There will be a lot of people spit-ting. But you'll accept it. The BOA will be biting their tongue as will a lot of people who supported it."

Prevention remains a more formidable deterrent than the cure. "You do hope the system is working and it will catch the blatant cheaters," Wells adds. Only now they will know that life will not mean exactly that.