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The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat. The legal nuances of blood and urine tests. That’s what will be on the mind of Richard Young when he attends the Summer Olympics in Sydney this month. Managing partner of the Colorado Springs office of Denver’s Holme Roberts & Owen, Young is one of 12 arbitrators selected from around the world to resolve Olympic disputes, including doping controversies. If called into action as part of a three-person appeals panel, Young may have to decide within 24 hours if a world-class athlete should be stripped of a medal or banned from competition. To avoid any suspicions of partisan politics, Young — who will be acting as an arbitrator for the Swiss-based International Court of Arbitration for Sports — will not pass judgment on any U.S. athletes. The controversy over doping in athletics — believed by many to be widespread — has been heating up in the months leading up to the Sydney games. In August the International Olympic Committee’s medical commission cleared the use of new blood and urine tests to detect the banned synthetic substance erythropoietin (known as EPO). The drug, which improves endurance, has not been detectable through traditional urine tests. Blood tests have never been used in Olympic competitions. At press time the IOC’s executive committee still had not decided whether to follow the medical commission’s recommendation and administer the test. If used in Sydney, the test could raise all sorts of thorny legal issues. For instance, says Young, an athlete could challenge the recently developed statistical norms used to determine the normal range of naturally occurring EPO in the body. The 53-year-old attorney is not paid by the IOC or the Court of Arbitration for Sports for this tour of duty, but he does get a per diem to cover travel and living expenses. He’s hoping to take full advantage of his “field of play credentials,” which will give him up-close-and-personal access to the games, including the right to go on the playing fields. “I’m going to go down with my family and watch a ton of sporting events, and if my cell phone rings, [I'll] go resolve [the matter],” he says. Young — who can detail the finer points of how to collect a scrupulously monitored urine sample — started off as a regular commercial litigator, but now has a substantial sports practice that goes beyond drug testing. His sports clients include the St. Louis Blues hockey team, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, and many of the “national governing bodies” for weight lifting and swimming. He has also represented individual Olympic athletes in drug controversies. (He declines to name these individuals.) He was recently appointed counsel to the newly formed U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which will administer drug tests for all U.S. Olympic activities. Previously the U.S. Olympic Committee and national governing sport bodies handled this task. During Young’s first stint as an Olympic arbitrator, he stepped into the uproar over Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati. After winning gold in the grand slalom at Nagano in 1998, the athlete tested positive for marijuana and was stripped of his medal. (Rebagliati claimed he had inhaled secondhand smoke.) He appealed, and a panel chaired by Young gave Rebagliati his medal back. It wasn’t due to tolerance of marijuana, Young emphasizes. “The International Olympic Committee rules didn’t prohibit marijuana,” he explains. “It was not rocket science jurisprudence.” The Rebagliati case was the only doping controversy that surfaced in Nagano. Does Young expect to be busier this time around if the new EPO tests are used? “What I really hope,” he says, “is that anybody who was thinking of using EPO won’t.”

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