Former UT sprinter Gatlin done with run in courts
Posted: Friday, June 27, 2008 12:53 pm
By: By EDDIE PELLS, AP National Writer
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Banned sprinter Justin Gatlin lost his appeal to run in the U.S. Olympic track trials Thursday and said he will end that effort rather than take the case to the Supreme Court.
In a briefly worded decision, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled Gatlin hasn’t shown he meets the “applicable standard for such an injunction.”
Earlier this month, the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld a four-year ban against Gatlin for doping violations, but the defending Olympic 100-meter champion went to federal court seeking to run in trials starting Saturday.
However, that will not be an option for the former Volunteer track star.
He said he had been discriminated against under the Americans with Disabilities Act because his first doping violation was for taking prescribed medication to treat attention deficit disorder.
The U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Anti-Doping Age-ncy argued that federal courts did not have jurisdiction in the case, an argument U.S. District Judge Lacey Collier agreed with Tuesday when he withdrew the temporary restraining order he had originally granted the week before.
Gatlin sought an emergency injunction from the appeals court, but was denied.
His attorney, Joe Zarzaur, said Gatlin wouldn’t take his case to the Supreme Court, but would continue with the lawsuit, seeking monetary damages due to his being shut out of the Olympic trails.
“Justin was disappointed, but he felt relieved in a way, because the court had finally acknowledged the fact he had a disability,” Zarzaur said. “The judge made it very clear that they were the party at fault, not him.”
In the decision Wednesday that rescinded the temporary restraining order, Collier said he did it because his court lacked the jurisdiction.
He still chided the USOC and USADA.
“The basic argument from these defendants is that they are not interested in fairness for Mr. Gatlin; they are interested only in their rules,” Collier wrote.
Meanwhile, athletes were in Eugene, preparing for trials and a few of the sport’s top stars said they weren’t enthusiastic about Gatlin’s possible appearance at the event.
“When I look at it from just not a personal standpoint and just purely athletically, I think it would be a distraction,” said Allyson Felix, a friend of Gatlin’s. “Obviously, I think he would be a focus of a lot of things, and that focus would be on drug-related things and I think that’s definitely what we’re trying to get away from here.”
CAS acknowledged that Gatlin has never intentionally taken performance-enhancing drugs, which has made his case more difficult than most of this nature.
Still, in a brief filed in district court Thursday before the decision was reached, track’s governing body (IAAF) took a strong stance against Gatlin.
“The IAAF cannot overstate its concern that the credibility of the worldwide doping enforcement procedures is undermined when cheating athletes are perceived to have ‘beaten the system,”’ lawyers wrote in their motion.
In the system, athletes usually get to appeal through arbitration, first via a process in their own country, then through CAS, which is considered a binding and final decision.
Like many critics of the system, Zarzaur said he didn’t think athletes get a fair shake in arbitration hearings under the current systtem.
“Arbitration is a fraud,” he said. “It is not fair, and that’s what Justin lost to today, arbitration.”