Athletics-Gatlin's Oregon invite will not change European ban
EUGENE, Oregon, June 2
EUGENE, Oregon, June 2 (Reuters) - Disgraced Olympic sprint champion Justin Gatlin will remain barred from major European races despite being invited to this weekend's Diamond League meeting in the United States, European officials told Reuters on Thursday.
Gatlin, who won the 100 metres gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics but was suspended for four years after a positive doping test in 2006, was cleared for his first major race since the ban when he was offered a spot in Saturday's Prefontaine Classic in Oregon.
But the American's hopes of competing in Europe appear doomed after officials said they were not planning to change their stand against inviting athletes who had served long doping terms.
"Euromeetings, the organization representing Europe's top athletics meetings, will continue to recommend that members do not invite athletes who we believe causes disrepute to our meetings and our sport," Rajne Soderberg, the group's president and organiser of the Stockholm Diamond League meeting, said in an email.
Patrick Magyar, the organizer of the Zurich meet, offered a similar view.
"Eugene can invite who they want and we will do the same," Magyar, vice chairman of the Diamond League, told Reuters via email.
Tom Jordan, the director of the Prefontaine Classic, said the 29-year-old Gatlin had been invited because he had served his penalty.
"We have a philosophy in this country that if you have paid your debt to society, then you are given a second chance and he will have second chance at the Prefontaine Classic," Jordan told Reuters.
Gatlin tested positive for the banned male sex hormone testosterone in 2006, but has consistently denied knowingly taking banned substancs.
He is eligible to compete under both international and U.S. athletics rules but has run only in low key meetings since his ban expired last July.
He had hoped the Prefontaine invitation would open the door for major races in Europe as he tries to make the U.S. team for this year's world championships and the 2012 Olympics.
Former British European champion Dwain Chambers, who served a two-year doping ban and is eligible for the worlds but not the Olympics, has faced a similar challenge to find races.
But Soderberg said Europeans remained firm in their stand.
"The voluntary code, which has been in place since 2003, again received support from the majority of members at the organization's last meeting in London in April," he said.
"(It), of course, does not include our colleagues outside of Europe, however, our organization and its members remain committed to it."
(Editing by Julian Linden; To query or comment on this story email email@example.com)
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