LaShawn Merritt will be on U.S. roster
INDIANAPOLIS -- Olympic and world 400-meter champion LaShawn Merritt will be on the U.S. roster for worlds after USA Track and Field waived a rule that would have prevented him from competing because he missed national championships while serving the end of a doping ban.
Merritt is serving a 21-month doping ban that ends July 27; it was shortened by three months to allow him to be eligible in time for worlds in August. The international track federation grants defending champions automatic spots at worlds, so long as their national federation allows them to go.
But a USATF rule states every athlete must compete at nationals to be on the U.S. team unless granted a waiver.
Merritt's ban was still in place last weekend when nationals took place. He filed the waiver and the USATF board took the recommendation of the chief of sport performance, Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, who said Merritt wouldn't take anyone else's roster position.
"That fact, as well as the clear message sent by the (doping arbitration panel) regarding his intent and conduct, resulted in our recommendation to place him on the roster," Fitzgerald Mosley said.
Merritt was suspended after he tested positive for a banned substance found in a male-enhancement product. He appealed the decision and an arbitration panel, in knocking three months off his two-year ban, found that he had not used the product to gain a competitive advantage.
Although he is clear for worlds, he still awaits his fate on Olympic eligibility.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport has set September as a target to rule on the legality of an International Olympic Committee rule that bars anyone who has served more than a six-month doping ban from competing in the next Olympics.
The rule has been criticized as a way of penalizing athletes twice for a single doping ban. But the IOC believes it should be free to decide who can participate in the Olympics.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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