Michel Euler, Associated Press
Former British Olympic champion Sebastian Coe poses next to an ice sculpture to promote the 2012 Summer Olympic Games on the sideline of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. The ice sculpture represents London's Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Canary Wharf and the London Eye.

LONDON — The British government and Olympic great Sebastian Coe are backing the national Olympic body's fight to keep a lifetime ban for drug cheats.

Coe, the two-time 1,500-meter champion who heads the organizing committee for the 2012 London Games, and Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson said Friday they have written letters supporting the British Olympic Association's hardline doping rule.

The letters were sent to the Court of Arbitration for Sport ahead of a hearing in London on March 12.

The BOA is challenging a decision by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which ruled in November that the lifetime ban was "noncompliant" with the global code and amounts to a second sanction.

The BOA contends the rule, which has been in place since 1992, is a matter of eligibility.