Cleared For London
by Devon Jeffreys
After a long battle in appeals courts, LaShawn Merritt got the news he had been waiting for on Thursday. The Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned a rule put in place by the International Olympic Committee that would have kept LaShawn out of the London Olympics in addition to the 21-month suspension he finished serving this past July.
He's now eligible to defend his 400-meter gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London. According to reports, a three-person panel for the CAS deemed the IOC rule "invalid and unenforceable" because it amounted to a second sanction for one mistake.
"I am thrilled to have this uncertainty removed for the 2012 season," LaShawn said. "I look forward to representing my country and defending my title in the 400 meters next summer in London at the Olympic Games and will prepare with even more determination than before."
The United States Olympic Committee backed LaShawn's appeal efforts vigorously and CEO Scott Blackmun told the Associated Press that he was glad the Court of Arbitration for Sport reached the only logical outcome.
"We're obviously happy about that," Blackmun said. "LaShawn made an error that he even admitted was a silly error. We're glad he's going to be able to compete."
In addition to defending his 400-meter gold medal, LaShawn will also be expected to help the U.S. defend the 4x400-meter Olympic gold in London. Following his return from suspension this season, LaShawn took silver in the 400 meters at the IAAF World Championships and pushed Team USA to gold in the 4x400.