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Gatlin takes his doping appeal to CAS

22 January 2008

By Dave Ungrady

Olympic and world sprint champion Justin Gatlin of the United States has filed an appeal of a four-year suspension for a doping violation to the European-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Gatlin, who won gold medals in the 100 meters at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2005 world championships, filed the appeal Monday.

"Mr. Gatlin is taking the next steps in recovering his right to defend his gold medal in the 100 meters, silver medal in the 400-meter relay and bronze in the 200 meters at the Beijing Olympics," Maurice Suh, Gatlin's attorney, said in a statement released Tuesday. "While there are many possible avenues that we are currently exploring, the appeal of the arbitration panel decisions are a critical component of his defense."

Gatlin, who briefly held the 100-meter world record in 2006, tested positive for amphetamines in 2001 as medication for attention deficit disorder. He contested the charge and received a two-year suspension from international competition that was later reduced by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Gatlin failed a drug test in 2006 and agreed to an eight-year ban, though he hoped that it would be reduced to two years following his cooperation with antidoping investigators. A U.S. arbitration panel ruled in early January that Gatlin should receive a four-year suspension, a decision that made the sprinter ineligible for Beijing.

"Among other issues, this case involves the anti-doping authorities barring Mr. Gatlin from participating in the Beijing Olympics by using a supposed sanction that arises out of his taking medicine for his ADD, a disability for which he was diagnosed," Suh said. "The medicine was one for which he had a prescription. It had no performance-enhancing benefit. The medicine was taken before the competition so that Mr. Gatlin could study for exams to pursue his education. To use this sanction to bar him from participating in the Olympics is a prime example of unfairness to an athlete, and a grossly inappropriate balance of antidoping efforts against the right of individuals to pursue their careers and their dreams and the right to receive fair treatment by those in the sports system. Most troublingly, it constitutes a discrimination against a person with a diagnosed disability who was attempting to obtain education."

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