RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - A $30 million slander lawsuit against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, filed by the former coach of disgraced sprinters Marion Jones, Justin Gatlin and Tim Montgomery, has been dismissed.
Federal judge James Fox said his court lacked jurisdiction to hear claims by Trevor Graham, who said USADA had slandered him based on allegations he gave performance enhancing drugs to athletes and affiliated his name with the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative doping scandal.
"He is contesting his eligibility to coach amateur athletes involved in Olympic sports, a remedy only available under the (U.S.) Amateur Sports Act," Fox wrote in his March 31 ruling.
"Consequently, these claims are outside the subject matter jurisdiction of this court."
Although a number of athletes coached or previously coached by Graham have admitted to taking banned substances or have been suspended for their use, he has denied any involvement.
The Jamaican-born Graham, who was banned from coaching for life by USADA in 2008, also said the agency had not given him a hearing on his case. But Fox ruled USADA followed the proper protocol in determining Graham's sanction.
Graham played a key role in unraveling the BALCO scandal in 2003 when he anonymously sent USADA a syringe containing the designer drug tetrahydrogestrinone.
He was found guilty by a U.S. court in 2008 of lying to federal agents and sentenced to a year of home confinement.
"We knew the case was baseless," USADA chief executive Travis Tygart, said in an email to Reuters on Thursday.
"It is unfortunate that Trevor Graham chose to waste everyone's time and resources in his quest to avoid taking responsibility for cheating sport.
Graham was not available for comment.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue)