U.S. Olympic officials ask judge to dismiss antitrust lawsuit

U.S. Olympic officials have asked a federal judge to dismiss the antitrust lawsuit filed by runner Nick Symmonds, who wants to wear the logo of a caffeinated chewing gum somewhere on his body during the upcoming Olympic trials.

Symmonds is suing the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Track and Field for the right to advertise Run Gum, which he co-founded.

The organizations have traditionally limited advertising to companies with whom they have exclusive sponsorship deals. This arrangement has been a continuing issue for athletes who have individual contracts with other brands.

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Filing a motion to dismiss on Friday in U.S. District Court in Oregon, officials said existing policy allows them to raise money to support athletes nationwide.

"Run Gum seeks to free ride on the USOC’s activities and to appropriate for its own commercial purposes the brand, goodwill, and popular audience of the Olympic Trials," the filing states. "That effort lacks any legal support, and it threatens the ability of the USOC to deliver on its mission."

Symmonds' attorney, Sathya Gosselin, had previously stated the restrictions "ultimately harm athletes, who rely on sponsorships to fund their training activities and make a living."

Last summer, Symmonds was left off the U.S. world championships team for refusing to sign a contract that required American athletes to wear Nike gear at all team functions.

The Olympic trials are scheduled for July 1-10, about a month in advance of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Follow David Wharton on Twitter @LATimesWharton

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