USOC & IOC Agree to CAS Decision on Controversial Doping Rule

April 28, 2011

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and United States Olympic Committee (USOC) have agreed that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) should decide on the future of a controversial eligibility rule, IOC Rule 45, which bars any athlete receiving a doping sanction of greater than six months from competing at the next Olympic Games.

The rule, known as the “Osaka” or “6 Month” rule, is set to keep defending Olympic 400 metres champion LaShawn Merritt, one of America’s leading gold medal hopes, out of next year’s Games in London.

The rule was established in 2008 and has been criticised ever since for creating a second penalty for athletes who have served their doping suspension. However, the IOC has maintained the rule is not a sanction but an issue of eligibility and that it has the right to put conditions on participation in the Olympics.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun stated: “In the interest of ensuring that all eligible athletes are able to compete in their respective Olympic qualification process, and to establish a degree of certainty as we head towards the Olympic Games in London, the USOC and the IOC have agreed to place the question of the regulation before the CAS for a definitive ruling. I’d like to thank the IOC for their willingness to proceed in this manner and for the quality and the tone of the discussions that we have had regarding this matter.”

According to IOC Director General, Christophe De Kepper, “This arbitration will provide certainty in the lead up to the 2012 London Olympic Games.”

Merritt received a 21-month suspension after testing positive in 2009 and 2010 for a banned substance he claimed was found in a male enhancement product and although his ban ends in July, under the IOC rule he would be ineligible to compete in London.

The petition is in the course of being submitted to the CAS with the agreement between the IOC and the USOC calling for an expedited review of the matter. While the USOC is the petitioner, the arbitration procedure shall be conducted so that the CAS ruling will be widely accepted.