PENSACOLA, Fla. Banned sprinter Justin Gatlin must go to Switzerland if he wants to compete in Beijing.
The International Olympic Committee said Gatlin, whose four-year doping ban recently was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, is not eligible to compete in the Beijing Olympics regardless of any ruling by a federal court judge in Pensacola.
"Should he wish to appeal this CAS decision, he must do so before the Swiss Federal Court," wrote IOC director of legal affairs Howard Stupp in the letter dated June 23.
Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Lacey A. Collier issued a temporary restraining order that would allow the defending Olympic 100-meter champion to compete in the 100-meter rounds at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials, which begin Friday in Eugene, Ore.
If allowed to run at the trials, Gatlin would have to finish in the top three of his event to make the U.S. Olympic team.
Monday, lawyers for the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Track & Field and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency gathered in Pensacola to try to persuade the judge that he had no jurisdiction in the matter.
Gatlin had sought the court's relief to compete, contending the punishment violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Two weeks ago, CAS upheld a four-year doping ban against the former world 100- and 200-meter champion. Gatlin asked CAS to rescind the 2001 doping violation his first of two which he had hoped would reduce his penalty to a two-year ban, allowing him to compete at trials. Gatlin's second doping offense stems from a positive test at the Kansas Relays in 2006.
The judge's order, like Gatlin's appeal to CAS, centers on the 26-year-old's first doping offense a positive test for amphetamines at the 2001 junior nationals. The substance was part of medication Gatlin was taking for attention deficit disorder.
Gatlin received a two-year suspension but was reinstated after one year.
Now he wants that offense erased, contending the punishment violated the ADA. In his ruling, Collier made it clear he agreed and that only a maze of international sports bureaucracy clouded the issue.
"In the midst of this intractable situation, it is abundantly clear that, if anyone were to actually deal with the facts of this case head-on, they would readily conclude, formally, that plaintiff was not at fault for the first violation, and would as a consequence end his suspension immediately," the judge wrote.
Also at issue is when Gatlin's suspension took effect. CAS changed the start of Gatlin's ban to July 25, 2006 the day he voluntarily accepted his provisional suspension instead of May 25, 2006. So he wouldn't have been reinstated before the trials even if his ban had been reduced from four years to two.