LaShawn Gets Go Ahead for Worlds
by Devon Jeffreys
LaShawn Merritt will be back on the track this August with a chance to defend his World Championship in the 400-meters.
With his 21-month suspension set to expire on July 27th, the USATF granted LaShawn's waiver request to defend his title in late August in Daegu, South Korea at the 13th IAAF World Championships. LaShawn will join U.S. Champion Tony McQuay, rival Jeremy Wariner and Greg Nixon, all of whom qualified last weekend at U.S. Nationals, on the U.S. team at the Worlds.
Because he is the defending World Champion in the event, LaShawn does not unseat one of those runners on the team.
"USATF decided to approve Mr. Merritt's request for several reasons," USATF chief of sport performance Benita Fitzgerald Mosley said. "Since he is a defending world champion, placing him on the roster will not deny a roster position to any other athlete. That fact, as well as the clear message sent by the AAA (American Arbitration Association) regarding his intent and conduct, resulted in our recommendation to place him on the roster."
LaShawn's suspension was cut from 24 months to 21 months by the American Arbitration Association when they deemed that he was not out to gain a competitive advantage. The waiver approval to compete at the World Championships was a direct result of that decision.
"I have spoken to LaShawn, and he's very excited," lawyer Howard Jacobs said. "He's returning to competition within a month and to be able to defend his world championship title, he's really looking forward to it. We've been working on this particular piece for awhile.
"Now that LaShawn is back, the 400 is a lot more exciting with him in it," Jacobs said. "I know LaShawn will be ready come worlds."
The 13th IAAF World Championships run from August 27th to September 4th, 2011 in Daegu, South Korea.
- 400 Champion cleared for Worlds (New York Times, June 29, 2011)
- Merritt selected for U.S. world champs team (AFP, June 28, 2011)
- Merritt cleared to defend title at worlds (USA Today, June 29, 2011)
- USA Track gives Merritt OK to defend world title (Virginian-Pilot, June 29, 2011)