SAN FRANCISCO, June 11, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Winston & Strawn LLP announced today that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld World Athletics’ ban of double-amputee 400m sprinter Blake Leeper from competing on prostheses at 6′ 1″, the same height as numerous other 400m runners, and the same height that Mr. Leeper uses in his day-to-day life. The Swiss Supreme Court also denied his appeal.
The CAS panel only issued its operative ruling and will provide a written opinion later, due to the imminent U.S. Olympic trials in which Mr. Leeper now cannot compete. World Athletics based its ban of Mr. Leeper on the so-called Maximum Allowable Standing Height (MASH) formula which World Athletics never adopted before applying it to Mr. Leeper.
The MASH formula is based upon studies that did not include a single person of African heritage, like Mr. Leeper. In response to that absence of data, World Athletics relied in the proceeding on photos taken more than sixty years ago of athletes from the 1960 Rome Olympics, in which two of the twelve Black able-bodied athletes whose photos were taken would have required amputations to run at a shorter height to compete if MASH had applied to them.
In response to these decisions, Mr. Leeper said: “It is tragic and wrong that World Athletics will be permitted to continue its discrimination against me and other Black disabled athletes. I will continue my dedication to being the best athlete I can and will also continue to do all I can to fight for the rights of disabled and Black persons, regardless of this decision.”
Jeffrey Kessler, the lead counsel for Mr. Leeper said: “We are all so terribly disappointed by these rulings, which perpetuate the injustice against Mr. Leeper. Science and history will eventually prove that Mr. Leeper should be permitted an equal chance to compete against all. The fight for equality will continue. For now, the world will be deprived of seeing Mr. Leeper compete against the best able- bodied athletes and the glory of sports will be dimmed as a result.”
Winston & Strawn LLP is an international law firm with 15 offices located throughout North America, Asia, and Europe. More information about the firm and its world-renowned sports litigation practice is available at www.winston.com.
SOURCE Winston & Strawn LLP