SAN FRANCISCO Tim Montgomery will go to an international arbitration panel to contest a possible lifetime ban sought by U.S. doping officials. Montgomery's legal team informed the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency of its decision Monday to appeal to the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport. A decision by CAS' international arbitrators is final and can't be appealed.
''We are taking this step because we believe that USADA's conduct ... has been so egregious as to remove any confidence that Tim could be fairly treated in this process,'' said Montgomery's attorney, Howard Jacobs. ''By turning to CAS, we hope that Tim will have the best opportunity to clear his name in a fair and impartial proceeding."
Montgomery was one of four sprinters who received a letter last week informing them that USADA was seeking a lifetime ban. The others were Michelle Collins, the 2003 world indoor champion at 200 meters; Alvin Harrison, the 2000 Olympic 400-meter silver medalist; and Chryste Gaines, a two-time Olympic relay medalist.
Gaines' attorney, Cameron Myler, did not return a call for comment Monday. An attorney for Collins said last week that he would seek an arbitration hearing. Harrison's legal team asked last Friday for arbitration under the standard commercial rules of arbitration instead of USADA's.
USADA rules provide for a smaller pool of possible arbitrators, including only those who have experience in these types of cases. It also follows international rules on the definition of doping, the possible sanctions and the prohibited use of substances. The commercial rules don't spell out those standards.
Harrison's attorney, Edward Williams, tried a similar tactic with track standout Regina Jacobs, who tested positive for the steroid THG last year. Her lawsuit seeking to excuse her from USADA's adjudication process is tied up in federal court.
''There was a long, legislative vetting process to determine why this is a decent and fair process,'' said Travis Tygart, USADA's director of legal affairs. ''Athletes in the U.S. who have seen the international process have agreed this is an extremely fair and open process.''
Of the 17 previous USADA cases that were contested, arbitrators found a doping violation each time but sometimes came back with lesser punishments than the agency had given.
Williams also asked the U.S. Olympic Committee to investigate Harrison's case and clear him for competition in the Olympics.
Williams said USADA's letter indicated the agency was seeking a lifetime ban because of Harrison's ''involvement'' with certain prohibited substances and unidentified ''prohibited techniques.'' The letter never alleged that Harrison tested positive or even took prohibited substances, according to Williams.
It's the first time the agency has filed charges against an athlete who has not failed or refused to take a drug test. USADA has built its cases on evidence from the federal probe of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, and hopes to have them wrapped up before the Athens Games open Aug. 13.
Star sprinter Marion Jones is also under scrutiny by USADA, but has not received formal notification that she is the target of a probe. Jones, the mother of Montgomery's nearly 1-year-old son, won five medals at the 2000 Olympics.
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