Inside Lines: How Merritt's victory lays down the law for Tevez & Co

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The Independent Online

The ramifications of the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to overturn the ban on the American athlete LaShawn Merritt for taking a steroid-packed "male enhancement product" stretch far beyond the 2012 Olympic Stadium.

His victory carries a message to authorities in every sphere of sport as administrators now fear it will open the floodgates for appeals by anyone who feels they have been done an injustice.

And CAS, rather like the European Court of Justice, which last week upheld the right of a Portsmouth pub landlady to screen live Premier League football by using a cheaper Greek decoder rather than pay a £700-a-month Sky charge, have a history of ruling in favour of the appellant.

Dwain Chambers and the cyclist David Millar will not be alone in considering going to CAS to get their lifetime Olympic bans, imposed unilaterally by the British Olympic Association, scrapped.

Perhaps more significant, though, is the possibility that it will encourage the likes of Manchester City refusenik Carlos Tevez to take his case to CAS should he be sacked by the club, claiming unfair dismissal.

And if national amateur boxing associations take the international body AIBA to the court in Lausanne over the corner ban on pro coaches such as Britain's Rob McCracken in the Olympics, there seems no doubt they would get a sympathetic hearing on the grounds of restraint of trade, according to experts in sports law.

The Merritt case confirms the concern of those who govern sport: that the referee's decision is no longer final.

Still making Haye

David Haye will be 31 on Thursday – the birthday on which he said he would declare his retirement. Still no word on whether that is truly his intention now he has lost his toe-hold on Hollywood.

We hear he has been canvassing TV stations about the possibility of a bout with the WBC champion, Vitali Klitschko, or a return with younger brother Wladimir, but there are no takers. Apparently no one wants to watch him getting beaten up again by a Klitschko. At least not in this country.

In Germany, the fans turn up in their thousands, not for the fight but the event, whenever either of their adopted Ukrainian icons are in action. They would relish seeing Haye take another tanking – just as they will when Wladimir faces the 39-year-old Jean Marc Mormeck in Dusseldorf on 10 December.

Mormeck, a blown-up cruiserweight who was stopped by Haye four years ago, has zero chance. It is an awful mismatch. But the Germans won't care as long as Big Wlad does the bloody business. So there's hope for Haye yet. Happy birthday.

Free for all

For almost two decades now Geoff Thompson has done more than anyone in Britain to make sport an antidote to the culture of guns and gangs in the troubled areas of Moss Side and Toxteth.

There they call him "Mr Heineken" because he gets to the parts others cannot reach. The one-time king of karate, now 53, runs the Manchester-based Youth Charter, a non-Government funded body which takes sport into communities that are often the exclusive domain of the underprivileged and unruly.

Now he has come up with a scheme which could go some way to alleviating the recent problems encountered when disaffected young people turned to violent disorder bordering on anarchy: that all sport and leisure community facilities should be made available free of charge to those under 18 in the lead-up to, during and after the 2012 Games, which would be a positive Olympic legacy.

An e-petition to the Government is being organised. It needs 100,000 signatures in the next three months for action to be considered. I urge you to sign up at

Farming it out

Stephen Fry has his own take on Olympic legacy. "After the Games they should hand the Olympic Park over to the inhabitants of Dale Farm," he told a rib-tickled Lord Coe at the BOA's fund-raising Olympic Ball. Star turn – Sir Tom Jones.

It was held at the perfect venue, too: Olympia.