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June 6, 2008 1:58 PM

U.S. Sprinter Gatlin Out of Beijing Olympics

Posted by Zach Lowe

Gatlin1 U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin--a gold medal winner for the 100-meter at the 2004 Athens Olympics--will likely not defend his title now that the Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled that the athlete's four-year ban for steroid use will stand. The decision was announced by CAS today.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Maurice Suh, a sports law specialist, represented Gatlin in the proceedings. He urged the court to reduce the four-year ban by disregarding Gatlin's first violation--a positive test in 2001 for amphetamines use. Gatlin claimed the test result was positive because of medication he was on for attention deficit disorder. Suh argued that punishing him for use of his ADD medication violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The court's position on that first test is crucial. Two-time offenders face longer four-year bans from competing. Gatlin also tested positive in 2006 for steroids use.

Gatlin has denied taking steroids intentionally; Gatlin's former coach, Trevor Graham, who was convicted this month of lying to federal authorities investigating steroid use among track athletes, initially claimed a "vengeful" massage therapist may have rubbed testosterone on Gatlin, according to ESPN.com.

Suh said he had hoped the court would reject the "strict liability" standard, whereby athletes are responsible for any substance found in their body.

On a conference call today with reporters, Suh said Gatlin is weighing his legal options, though the attorney did not elaborate on what those options might be. CAS decisions almost always are final. Suh also said Gatlin was pleased that the court did not consider a lifetime ban--the initial punishment recommended by the International Association of Athletics Federation.

Suh also represents Floyd Landis, the 2006 Tour de France champion who was stripped of his medal for alleged doping. Landis is appealing that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport; a decision will be issued no earlier than late June.

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I truly believe that the claim
of his massage therapist using a testosterone cream
is absolutely bunk. These athletes testing positive are
digging for anything they can find to get out of their doping practices. He's lucky
he wasn't banned for life!

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