Suit seeks to halt Olympic ban

A suit seeking to prevent the US Olympic Committee from boycotting the Olympic Games in Moscow was filed Wednesday in federal court by 18 American athletes, a coach, and an amateur sports official.

The suit, filed in US District Court in the District of Columbia, says the USOC violated the athletes' constitutional rights, because it has no authority under the Amateur Sports Act to prevent US participation in the games. It asks a federal judge to bar the committee from carrying out its April 12 resolution saying that no US team will go to Moscow unless President Carter reports by May 20 that sending a team would be "compatible with the national interest."

President Carter put pressure on the Olympic Committee -- which has only until May 24 to enter a team in the games -- to boycott the Moscow games unless the Soviets withdraw their troops from Afghanistan.

A class action is sought on behalf of the estimated 2,000 US athletes with a chance to be named to the team. Plaintiffs include eight members of the 1976 US Olympic team, among them two gold medal winners: long-jumper Arnie Robinson and discus thrower Mac Wilkins.

The suit says the athletes made great sacrifices to train for the games and that many "have borne the costs of their own training," each relying on the Amateur Sports Act to ensure that he or she would have a chance to participate in the Olympics.

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