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IOC backs doping rule banning Merritt from London

The IOC has reasserted the validity of an anti-doping rule that will prevent American runner LaShawn Merritt from defending his 400-meter gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee executive board and the IOC athletes' commission reiterated their backing of the rule, which bars any athlete with a doping suspension of at least six months from competing in the following games.

IOC vice president Thomas Bach says "athletes declared their support and the rule applies."

Merritt received a 21-month suspension last year after testing positive for a banned substance found in a male enhancement product.

Although his ban expires next summer, Merritt would be ineligible for London under the rule.