Lashawn Merritt is ineligible to defend his Olympic 400-metre title at the 2012 London Games, even though his doping ban ends a year earlier, the IOC said Tuesday. The American runner received a 21-month suspension from U.S. arbitrators on Monday for using a banned substance found in an over-the-counter male enhancement product.
The ban expires in July 2011, leaving Merritt eligible to compete in the world championships in Daegu, South Korea, in August next year.
But the International Olympic Committee reiterated that its rules will keep Merritt out of the London Olympics. Under a rule adopted in Osaka, Japan, in 2008, any athlete suspended for more than six months is automatically banned from the next Olympics. "Each case is of course different and subject to potential legal procedures," the IOC said in a statement.
"But the IOC's rules are clear, coming into force just before Beijing in July 2008. The Osaka rule states very clearly that any athlete sanctioned for more than six months will be banned from participation in the next edition of the games.