The US sprinter is ineligible to compete at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games this September.
Paralympian sprinter Patrick Blake Leeper just received a huge blow to his dreams of winning gold as the fastest man in the world without legs. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) will not allow him to compete in the Paralympics, and is refusing to recognize a U.S. settlement that paved the way for him to run in Rio.
"It is not in the Olympic spirit to not let the best man run," said Willie Gault, Leeper's Coach. "This kid has done everything right to hold up his side of the settlement agreement against nearly impossible odds."
The IPC seeks to control Team USA and their right to settle with their athletes.
Leeper says the decision not only dismisses him, it dismisses his country. "It is clear to anyone who learns about my story that politics played a role. However, I cannot allow anyone the satisfaction of controlling my life in the manner that the IPC seeks to control Team USA and their right to settle with their athletes."
The award-winning, blade-runner has overcome many challenges in his life. The latest, a struggle to become clean. His decade-long battle with alcoholism has lead to poor choices, ultimately resulting in a positive test for cocaine in his system and a two-year suspension from competing.
However, the punishment was his wake-up call, initiating an intense recovery effort.
Leeper's dedication and multiple weekly drug tests impressed the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which agreed to reduce the suspension to one year.
He returned in June to set a new American speed record, and ready to run for gold with Team USA.
The International Paralympic Committee has no obligation to recognize the settlement agreement between Mr. Patrick Leeper and USADA
But as Leeper trained for Rio, the IPC challenged the U.S. settlement and his eligibility.
Leeper appealed to the Court of Arbitration to force the IPC to recognize the USADA agreement, but last Friday his appeal was dismissed along with his 2016 Paralympic hopes.
Following this decision, all results obtained by Leeper since 20 June 2016 are nullified.
The IPC released a statement saying not only is Leeper ineligible to compete in Rio, but that all of his records and achievements since the suspension began are no longer valid, and that he would not be eligible to return to competition until June of 2017. Leeper's team says the IPC release is factually inaccurate and written with malice.
The IPC's press release ...misstates the CAS decision
Leeper will continue to compete, just not at the Paralympics. "The IPC's press release overstates and misstates the CAS decision, and improperly takes liberties and draws self-serving conclusions from the very narrow CAS decision," said Matt Lewis, Leeper's attorney.
Circa has reviewed the final ruling, which does not say anything about the U.S. settlement being invalid.
It reads only that the IPC is not obligated to recognize it.
Leeper says he will continue to inspire others: "I will come back better, stronger and faster."
Watch Circa's exclusive interview with Patrick Blake Leeper and his attorney Matt Lewis. "As a result of the IPC's decision, the world will be deprived of seeing the best and fastest compete, and the winners will have an empty victory," said Robert Lorsch, Leeper's manager.