The Court of Arbitration for Sport on Thursday overturned an Olympic ban on American 400 metres champion LaShawn Merritt and in the process cleared the way for other banned athletes to compete at next year’s London Olympics.
Under International Olympic Committee regulations any athlete given a ban longer than six months is prohibited from competing at the next Games. But the court rejected the rule as invalid.
CAS Director Matthieu Reeb said: “So today the Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled on the request of the USOC (United States Olympic Committee) and has decided that the IOC rule called the Osaka Rule must be declared invalid and unenforceable.”
In Lausanne the ruling was met with disbelief by the IOC who will now be forced to amend the world anti-doping code if they want to prevent suspended athletes competing at the games.
IOC President Jacques Rogge responded: “It’s a little surprising, but we’re going to make a proposal to revise the anti-doping rules in 2013 for a regulation that has the same effect.”
While the IOC eagerly await the anti doping code review in two years, the CAS’s recent ruling has raised 2012 Olympic hopes for many other former banned athletes such as British sprinter Dwain Chambers.