Olympic champion sprinter Justin Gatlin will challenge his four-year doping suspension and might take the case to federal court.
"We may have to file multiple actions at the same time," Gatlin's attorney, John Collins, told the Associated Press yesterday.
A three-member arbitration panel voted, 2-1, to suspend Gatlin, who faced a possible eight-year ban for his second doping offense, in a 53-page ruling released Tuesday.
Under the panel's ruling, Gatlin would be eligible to run May 25, 2010. That would prevent him from defending his 100-meter title at the Beijing Olympics in August. If the sprinter is able to get his first offense erased, it likely would result in a two-year ban that would expire in May, a month before the U.S. Olympic trials.
Asked whether he thought any appeal or court action could be completed in time, Collins said: "I don't know. Obviously, that's the goal."
The sprinter showed excessive testosterone in a test at the Kansas Relays in April 2006. It was his second doping offense. As a 19-year-old competitor at the world junior track and field championships, Gatlin tested positive for amphetamines, apparently because of a prescribed medication he was taking for attention deficit disorder.
The panel unanimously ruled Gatlin committed a doping offense in April 2006, but the sprinter's first offense in 2001 troubled the group.
Gatlin had taken medication for attention deficit disorder since childhood. He stopped taking the medication three days before the competition, but small amounts still were detected.
Gatlin continued to compete for the University of Tennessee and was reinstated in international competition after just one year of what would have been a two-year ban. An arbitration panel in the 2001 case determined Gatlin did not attempt to cheat.
That panel, however, didn't find that he had "no fault" in the case. Collins argued there was no such finding because none was required under rules in place at the time.