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Gatlin makes appeal to compete in Beijing

29 February 2008

By Dave Ungrady

The attorney for U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin has filed an appeal of the runner's recently imposed four-year suspension from competition to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, claiming the former world-record holder and Olympic champion in the 100 meters should be eligible to qualify for the upcoming Beijing Olympics.

Maurice Suh filed the appeal Monday. "Our case is simple," he said in a statement. "Justin should be allowed to compete in the June trials for the Beijing Olympics because the antidoping authorities violated the Americans with the Disabilities Act when it sanctioned Justin in 2001 for taking attention-deficit disorder medication and later used that sanction to bar him from participating in the Olympics."

The sprinter lost his first appeal on doping charges to the American Arbitration Association in a decision announced Jan. 1. Before the AAA appeal, attorney John Collins represented Gatlin. He has since hired Suh, who is also handling an appeal of doping charges to CAS for 2006 Tour de France champion Floyd Landis.

"Punishing Justin for taking medicine that was prescribed by a doctor and does not enhance performance in any way is unfair and constitutes discrimination against a person with a diagnosed disability," said Suh, a partner at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutche.

Gatlin failed a drug test in 2001 for a prescribed medication for Attention Deficit Disorder. The International Association of Athletics Federations reinstated him the following year.

The American won the 2004 Athens Olympic 100-meter title and completed a 100-200 double at the Helsinki world championships in 2005.

He won each of his five 100-meter competitions in 2006, including tying the then world record of 9.77 seconds in Doha and winning the U.S. title.

But after it was announced that Gatlin had returned a positive test for the male sex hormone testosterone at the 2006 Kansas Relays he was suspended while his case was referred to arbitration.

Gatlin has denied knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs and hopes to compete again.

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