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Paralympic sprinter Leeper ineligible for Paralympics

David Wharton, Los Angeles Times (TNS) • Aug 29, 2016 at 6:07 PM

RIO DE JANEIRO — Paralympic sprinter Blake Leeper has lost his appeal to run at the upcoming 2016 Paralympics, an international court announced.

Leeper, who was born without lower legs and runs on prosthetics, now appears to have reached the end of a long battle to compete in Rio de Janeiro this summer.

“We’ll keep training,” said Bob Lorsch, his adviser. “Nothing is going to stop him.”

Leeper became something of a celebrity after finishing second to Oscar Pistorius in the 400 meters at the 2012 London Paralympics. He made numerous television appearances, played in the celebrity game during NBA All-Star weekend and was negotiating a book deal.

But the Tennessee native later acknowledged to the Los Angeles Times that he had been battling alcoholism and occasional drug use since his teens.

In June 2015, Leeper tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine at the U.S. Paralympic championships. He initially received a two-year suspension, which the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency reduced to one year after he cooperated with authorities.

The International Paralympic Committee did not agree with USADA’s decision, insisting Leeper serve the full suspension. The case ultimately went before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“The International Paralympic Committee has no obligation to recognize the settlement agreement,” the court said.

Leeper says he has been sober for months. At the recent U.S. Paralympic trials, he qualified for the American team in the T43 classification, finishing second in the 100 meters despite losing one of his prosthetics near the finish line.

“Leeper will be eligible to return to competition on June 21, 2017,” the IPC said in a statement. “In addition, the athlete shall make a contribution towards the legal fees and expenses incurred by the IPC in connection with the CAS arbitration proceedings.”

©2016 Los Angeles Times
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