Van Gelder Loses Legal Challenge to Return to Rio
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A Dutch court sided with the Dutch Olympic Committee on Friday, ruling it was in the right when it expelled gymnast Yuri van Gelder from the Olympic Games on Monday.

A Dutch court sided with the Dutch Olympic Committee on Friday, ruling it was in the right when it expelled gymnast Yuri van Gelder from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on Monday.

Van Gelder was kicked out of the Olympics after he was accused of leaving the Olympic Village on Saturday night, returning to the Village intoxicated and causing a commotion early Sunday morning, and then skipping practice that day.

The gymnast arrived in the Netherlands on Tuesday, but immediately filed an injunction against the Dutch Olympic Committee (NOC*NSF) with the hope he could return to Rio de Janeiro, where he had qualified to compete in the upcoming still rings finals on Monday.

Van Gelder attended the court hearing in Arnhem on Friday with his attorney. The hearing was broadcast live. Van Gelder denied he was intoxicated or caused any unrest. Van Gelder's attorney, Cor Hellingman, argued that his client had not broken any rules, and that the only allegation they could prove was that he missed training.

However, Van Gelder told the judge that he does not practice the day after competition.

"I am a specialist," he said. "The rings is an explosion of power. The day before the meet I don't train and the day afterward I don't train. I've done nothing different than what I normally do."

Van Gelder admitted he drank four or five beers at the Dutch hospitality house in Rio, the Holland Heineken House, but that he was not drunk. He also stated that his teammate, Jeffrey Wammes, also left the Olympic Village to go to a nightclub with Van Gelder's Brazilian girlfriend, and that Van Gelder only went to the club in a taxi to pick them up before returning to the Olympic Village.

"We silently entered our apartment and I went to bed," he told the judge.

Hellingman placed blame on Van Gelder's coach, Bram van Bokhoven, who had reportedly told the Royal Dutch Gymnastics Federation (KNGU) that he was "finished" with van Gelder after the incident on Sunday. According to Van Bokhoven, he had given van Gelder permission to go to Holland House but told him not to drink and that he must return to his room by midnight.

Hellingman stated that the real reason his client was expelled from the Olympics was down to Van Bokhoven's no longer wanting to work with him.

"If a coach does not want to coach anymore, there is a crisis, '' Hellingman said. "But the athlete cannot leave! So If the coach does not want to coach anymore, he should go home himself."

Hellingman argued that his client was more or less "kidnapped" from Rio when he was put on a plane back to the Netherlands, and that he should have been allowed to stay in Brazil while he appealed the decision.

Harro Knijff, the lawyer for the NOC*NSF, stated that the decision to expel Van Gelder was not done hastily and was given considerable thought.

"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. "The head 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."

Ultimately, the court ruled against Van Gelder, stating, "The NOC*NSF does not need to reconsider its decision not to allow Yuri van Gelder to participate any further in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro." The court stated it would publish its full judgement "as quickly as possible."

The NOC*NSF issued a statement that it considered the matter closed: "This ruling means that we can now leave this behind us for the rest of the Olympic Games. It is unfortunate that it had to come to court."

According to Dutch broadcaster NOS, Van Gelder will not appeal the court's decision. His attorney said there was not enough time before the rings final on Monday for any further legal challenge.

Van Gelder, 33, was competing in his first Olympic Games. He was the world champion on still rings in 2005, and won several European and other international titles on the event. He was suspended from the Dutch team in 2009 after testing positive for cocaine at the Dutch championships. He was also removed from the world championships in 2010, and the president of the Royal Dutch Gymnastics Federation stated the gymnast had admitted using cocaine again, which Van Gelder later denied.

His spot in the still rings final in Rio de Janeiro will be filled by Danny Pinheiro Rodrigues of France. He is the second gymnast to move into the final, as Ukraine's Igor Radivilov replaced Frenchman Samir Aït Saïd, who broke his leg on vault in Rio.

Van Gelder's expulsion has threatened to overshadow the Dutch gymnasts' success at the Olympic Games in Rio, where they qualified both men's and women's teams for the first time since 1928. The women reached the team final, and Sanne Wevers qualified to the balance beam final. Bart Deurloo became the first Dutch gymnast to qualify to the men's all-around final at the Olympics, where he finished 15th on Wednesday. On Thursday, Eythora Thorsdottir finished a record ninth in the women's all-around final. Epke Zonderland qualified first to the high bar final, where he is the defending Olympic champion.

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