PENSACOLA, Fla. The U.S. Olympic Committee appealed a federal judge's order that would allow banned sprinter Justin Gatlin to run in this weekend's track and field trials for the Beijing Games.
The appeal, filed Tuesday in a federal circuit court in Atlanta, seeks to overturn a temporary restraining order that would in effect override Gatlin's four-year doping ban at least for now.
Attorneys from the USOC, USA Track & Field and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency tried Monday to persuade Judge Lacey Collier to reconsider his order. The judge delayed his decision at least until Tuesday, so the USOC took its arguments to the higher court.
Gatlin, meanwhile, was preparing to compete in the 100-meter preliminary rounds at the track and field trials, which begin Friday in Eugene, Ore.
Although USA Track & Field has argued that Gatlin should not run because of his ban, spokeswoman Jill Geer said USATF is developing lane assignments in case the courts allow Gatlin to run.
If that happens, Gatlin would have to finish in the top three to make the U.S. Olympic team. But the International Olympic Committee said Monday that Gatlin is not eligible to compete in the Beijing Games regardless of any ruling by a federal judge in Pensacola.
Gatlin had sought the court's relief to compete, contending the punishment violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Two weeks ago, the Court of Arbitration for Sport 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 sprinter'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.
Defense attorneys argued that Gatlin's case already has been heard and appealed by arbitration panels, and that Gatlin agreed to abide by those decisions. They said Collier had no jurisdiction to rule on the case in Pensacola, and that Gatlin's only recourse would be to make a final appeal to the Swiss federal court.
AP Sports Writers Bob Baum in Eugene, Ore., and Mark Long in Gainesville, Fla., and AP National Writer Eddie Pells in Eugene, Ore., contributed to this report.