Claims Overblown on Fallout of CAS Decision
Reports that as many as nearly three dozen U.S. athletes may become eligible for the London Olympics after an IOC anti-doping rule is struck down appear to be way off the mark.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled this week that the IOC’s so-called “Osaka Rule” (adopted in 2009 ahead of the IAAF world champs in Osaka) is not valid. The rule made Olympics-ineligible any athlete who received a competition ban of more than six months for doping, even after the athlete served the penalty.
That was the crux of the appeal filed by sprinter LaShawn Merritt who was banned for nearly two years after testing positive in 2010 for a drug used for erectile dysfunction. CAS determined that the rule is “invalid and unenforceable”.
In the wake of the decision, media reports in the U.K. have said that as many as 33 U.S. athletes are now free to compete, implying they are on the verge of qualifying for Olympic teams.
One official in the U.S. familiar with the U.S. anti-doping cases says that number is a “gross misstatement” and that Merritt is the only athlete who could possibly end up in London based on the CAS ruling.
“I have no idea where they came up with this number though I assume, that they assumed, that everyone with a violation in the USA was on their way to London” the official tells ATR.
Since the rule took effect, dozens of U.S. athletes have been tagged with drug violations. But only Merritt is at a level that includes the Olympics.
“The rest are not hopeful, not even close. While technically eligible, they will not compete. Additionally, everyone on the list, to the extent their suspensions have ended, are eligible for their IF’s events as well.”
While the IOC rule prevented athletes from competing at the Games, the rule did not block them from taking part in events sanctioned by their international federations.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency lists all drug-related sanctions for U.S. athletes since 2001 on its website, http://www.usada.org/sanctions/.
A review of the athletes with sanctions confirms the highest-profile athlete, and the one most likely to qualify would be Merritt.
Jessica Hardy, who qualified for the 2008 Olympic team in swimming was the other candidate most likely to join the Olympic team. She tested positive for clenbuterol, however, her suspension was reduced to four months and was not subject to the IOC ban.
New Zealand “Disappointed” with CAS Decision
The New Zealand Olympic Committee joins the British Olympic Association in opposition to the CAS ruling. Like Britain, the NZOC banned first-time offenders from making the Olympic team for four years, life for a second offence.
“The New Zealand Olympic Committee is disappointed at the outcome of the CAS ruling and will support the IOC’s stance on tougher anti-doping sentences in the WADA code,” says a statement from the committee.
“Following these changes, the New Zealand Olympic Committee will consider and review its current policy,” says the statement.
New Zealand has one athlete who could be affected by the CAS decision, marathoner Liza Hunter-Galvan who tested positive for EPO in 2009.
Reaction from Athletes, IOC President
Look for reaction to the CAS ruling in the coming days from Colorado Springs, where the U.S. Olympic Committee will host the IOC Athletes Forum, Oct. 8-12.
The forum will attract 150 athletes from around the globe to discuss issues affecting them. Oct. 8 brings a meeting of the IOC Athletes Commission where the CAS ruling is likely to be discussed. IOC President Jacques Rogge will speak Monday to the forum and is expected to comment on the next steps the IOC might take to restore the stricken rule.
Media Watch: U.S. Response Said to be Muted
Lawrence Donegan of The Guardian writes about what he believes is a muted response to the LaSahawn Merritt case by U.S. media.
Written by Ed Hula and Ed Hula III.
For general comments or questions, click here.
Your best source of news about the Olympics is www.aroundtherings.com, for subscribers only.