PENSACOLA, Florida (Reuters) - A federal judge blocked on Tuesday a bid by banned Olympic 100 meters champion Justin Gatlin to compete in this week’s U.S. athletics trials for the Beijing Games.
Judge Lacey Collier dissolved a 10-day restraining order that would have allowed the 26-year-old Gatlin to take part in the trials in Eugene, Oregon, starting on Friday. He also denied Gatlin’s request for a preliminary injunction in the case.
The judge ruled that determining the United States’ participation in the Olympic Games was the “exclusive jurisdiction” of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
But he also said Gatlin, who suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder, had been wronged in the process that resulted in his suspension. He said the court had no power to right the wrong.
“As courts have indeed held, issues regarding whether an athlete is eligible to participate in the Olympic Games or any of its qualifying events are reserved solely for the USOC, and the courts have no jurisdiction to entertain a private right of action that might impinge upon an eligibility determination,” Collier wrote in his ruling.
Gatlin was suspended for four years after a 2006 positive test for the male sex hormone testosterone. The violation was ruled his second doping offence because the sprinter had also tested positive in 2001 for amphetamines that were part of a medication to treat Attention Deficit Disorder.
He filed a lawsuit against the USOC, USA Track & Field (USATF), the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) claiming the four organizations had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when an arbitration panel used the first positive test to increase his penalty for the 2006 offence.
“Mr Gatlin is being wronged, and the United States Courts have no power to right the wrong perpetrated upon one of its citizens,” Collier wrote.
“It is beyond dispute that the plaintiff properly challenged his suspension on grounds that the defendants’ actions violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the very grounds he raises in this motion,” Collier wrote.
But he added the court did not find the wrongs in the case “to rise to the level of moral repugnance as is required under the law for the court to consider piercing the view of the jurisdictional issue”.
(Additional reporting by Gene Cherry)
(Editing by Michael Christie, Jim Loney and John Mehaffey)
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