By Duncan Mackay in Acapulco
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year
October 22 - Sebastian Coe has backed the rule that means Olympic 400 metres champion LaShawn Merritt will be unable to defend his title at London 2012 because of a doping suspension.
The American Arbitration Association (AAA) this week gave Merritt a 21-month ban after testing positive for DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) which he claimed he had ingested unknowingly in a product he had brought over the counter to enhance his sex life.
His suspension - which has been backdated to October 2009 - is due to end next July but he is still set to miss London because, under the rules of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), any athlete who tests positive for banned drugs and is suspended for more than six months is automatically barred from competing in the next Games.
Even the AAA claim that it would be unfair to punish Merritt again by missing London 2012 but Coe, the chairman of London 2012 and a former double Olympic 1500m champion, has no sympathy for the American and claims that it only brings the rest of the rest of the world closer to being in line with Britain's hard-line approach to drugs cheats.
"It is perfectly legitimate for an organisation to take an individual approach," said Coe, who is also the vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
"The British Olympic Association (BOA), for instance, has a clause that is very clear: that if you are positively competed you don't ever compete in an Olympic Games.
"The IOC have been very clear about [missing] the next Olympic Games.
"If the IOC have made that clear then that's that ruling.
"If the IOC have made that judgement then I back that decision."
Coe has been supported by Sir Craig Reedie, a member of the IOC's ruling Executive Board and a former chairman of the BOA.
He said: "While we regret when a distinguished athlete like LaShawn Merritt does this, I'm afraid he'll have to be responsible for his own actions."
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
October 2010: American Olympic champion could miss London 2012 over sex drug ban
April 2010: Mike Rowbottom - LaShawn Merritt is stretching something, probably the truth...
April 2010: US hit by major new doping scandal after Olympic and world champion tests positive