Two weeks ago, Justin Gatlin’s appeal was rejected and his original doping offense for being on ADHD medication was upheld. At the time, I stated that the matter was settled now and that he had to wait until 2010 to return.
According to U.S. District Judge Lacey A. Collier, I was wrong. He has filed a restraining order that should allow Gatlin to compete in the Olympic Trials and attempt to earn himself a seat on the plane to Beijing. He feels that the original doping offense violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and that it should be disregarded.
There are two problems with this as I see it, though.
The first and most obvious problem is that a district judge in Florida has absolutely no authority in this case, because the IOC and the IAAF does not fall under US jurisdiction. Any reversals of decisions have to be made through the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, which has the final say in international track & field competition on legal matters. As it has only been 2 weeks since they rejected Gatlin’s appeal, I don’t think that this judge’s argument is going to sway them, especially since it was used in the original appeals process.
The second problem that I see with this is that for some reason they changed the date of Gatlin’s suspension to the day that he accepted his provisional suspension (July 25th, 2006) rather than the date of his positive drug test (May 25th, 2006). Normally, the ban is instituted as of the date of the failed test.
Because the date has been changed, it really makes no difference if his first doping violation is thrown out because he still would not be eligible to compete in the Olympic Trials. The finals for the 100 meter race are next week on June 28th. I’m not really sure what this judge is hoping to accomplish.