Steroid Use Won’t Keep LaShawn Merritt Out of the Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee wanted to permanently keep steroid users, who have served bans greater than 6-months, out of the Olympic Games. However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that the IOC’s so-called “six-month rule” was “invalid and unenforceable” and violated the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules.

The 2008 IOC rule threatened to keep American sprinter Shawn Merritt out of the 2012 London Olympics.  Merritt tested positive for DHEA on three difference occasions in 2010. DHEA is considered a prohibited anabolic steroid according to WADA.

Merritt claimed inadvertent doping. He had been using Extenze penis enhancement pills which apparently contain DHEA. Merritt had only intended to enhance his sexual performance and not his athletic performance with the legal over-the-counter steroid DHEA.

Merritt completed a 21-month suspension in July 2011. When his suspension was first announced, USADA’s chief executive officer Doug Logan was highly critical of Merritt for his actions saying that he “sullied his career” with his use of steroids.

“Thanks to his selfish actions, he has done damage to our efforts to fight the plague of performance-enhancing drugs in our sport,” according to Logan.

USADA sang a different tune when it came to restoring Merritt’s eligibility for the 2012 London Olympics. Both USADA and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) supported his appeal to the CAS.

The formidable anti-doping attorney Howard Jacobs represented the United States Olympic Committe in the battle to restore Merritt’s elibility.

When the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in their favor, they paved the way for several other athletes who had been banned from the Olympics due to the IOC’s “six month rule”.

The British Olympic Association has enforced a similar rule which has impacted elite athletes such as cyclist David Millar and sprinter Dwain Chambers. The BOA has given indication that they will resist a CAS ruling that the “six month rule” amounts to double jeopardy.

 LaShawn Merritt


Longman, J. (October 6, 2011). Olympic Eligibility Restored By Court. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/07/sports/court-overturns-olympic-ban-of-lashawn-merritt-other-doping-offenders.html