Dutch gymnast Van Gelder seeks reinstatement to Olympic team
ARNHEM, Netherlands (AP) Gymnast Yuri van Gelder lost his legal battle Friday to rejoin the Dutch Olympic team in Rio in time to compete in the rings final on Monday.
Judge Ronald Boonekamp shattered Van Gelder's Olympic dream when he rejected his request for an injunction ordering the Netherlands Olympic Committee to reinstate the gymnast.
The 33-year-old was sent home late Monday after missing a training session because he overslept following an all-night foray into Rio that involved drinking ''four or five'' beers at a Dutch brewer's pop-up bar in the host city.
Van Gelder's lawyer said in a text message to The Associated Press that it was too late to appeal the decision in time for the final.
The rejection followed a high-stakes hearing in a packed courtroom in the eastern city of Arnhem that marked the latest twist in Van Gelder's turbulent sports career which, alongside his 2005 world title, has also featured a ban for cocaine use and being dropped from a Dutch World Championships team for alleged drug use.
Van Gelder was mobbed by media and fans as he arrived at the court and scores of people crowded into an extra room set up for the public to watch the legal battle that has dominated Dutch headlines this week, almost eclipsing performances of the country's athletes in Rio.
''I had just reached an Olympic final. I celebrated with a beer,'' Van Gelder told reporters after the hearing, during which he told the judge he drank ''four or five'' beers. ''If somebody had explicitly told me that was banned, I would not have done it.''
Van Gelder and the Dutch Olympic committee were not immediately available for comment after the ruling.
Van Gelder's lawyer, Cor Hellingman, had asked the judge to order the Netherlands Olympic Committee to do all it could to ensure Van Gelder could participate in Monday's final, including buying him a business class ticket to Rio and, if necessary, arguing his case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
''Van Gelder could have stayed in Rio to await the outcome of an appeal,'' Hellingman said. ''Instead he was more or less kidnapped and put on a plane.''
Harro Knijff, the Dutch Olympic Committee's lawyer, rejected that characterization and denied there was a rush to justice.
''There was almost a full day of meetings and discussions before reaching what is, of course, this painful decision to eject Van Gelder from the team,'' he said during the hastily arranged hearing.
Van Gelder admitted drinking at Holland Heineken House in Rio, a popular temporary venue that is a magnet for Dutch athletes and fans. But he denied drinking after that, saying he then went to his girlfriend's apartment in Rio, before picking up a fellow Dutch gymnast from a nightclub and returning to the athletes' village, arriving at 5:08 a.m.
He said he slept through morning training, but denied that was unusual.
''The rings is an explosion of power. A day before the match I don't train and the day afterward, I don't train,'' he said. ''So I didn't divert from my normal routine.''
The Dutch Olympic committee's lawyer said that the late night foray into Rio and failure to stick to agreements had led to a breakdown in trust between Van Gelder and his coach, Bram van Bokhoven, leading the Dutch gymnastic federation to recommend Van Gelder be sent home.
''The top of the gymnastics team - including his own coach - pressed for him to be kicked off the team for his behavior and his negative influence on other team members,'' Kijff said.