A lawsuit filed by Run Gum against the USOC and USATF was dismissed on Thursday by a federal judge, who ruled that antitrust laws were not broken because the organizations have implied immunity under the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act of 1978.
Run Gum was co-founded by Nick Symmonds, a two-time Olympian and outspoken proponent for athletes’ rights. The Run Gum suit, filed in January, alleged that the USOC and USATF “jointly agreed to exclude various businesses from sponsoring athletes in return for advertising exposure on athletes’ competition apparel” at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials for track and field, which take place in Eugene this summer.
Run Gum wants to sponsor athletes at the Trials in exchange for logo placement on the athletes’ competition attire, which is currently not permitted save for the usual standard marks on the uniforms produced by approved apparel manufacturers.
According to USA Today, Judge Michael J. McShane granted the USOC and USATF’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, stating “Despite Run Gum’s contentions to the contrary, immunizing the Regulations from antitrust liability does not unmoor the USOC from all responsibility under the Sherman Act. Rather, it allows the USOC and USATF to preclude athletes from becoming human billboards at the Trials—a ban which is necessary to finance Team USA.”
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun released a statement after the ruling that said “Congress has entrusted us with the authority to oversee Olympic branding in the United States. The court’s decision will allow us to continue to maximize the support that is available for our athletes and National Governing Bodies. That in turn will allow us to deliver against our mission, which is to help as many American athletes as possible to reach the podium at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
MORE: USA Today