February 15, 2010

Lawyer goes to bat for Olympic dreams

PORTLAND — When the four women on the U.S. biathlon team compete today at the Winter Games in Vancouver, Falmouth resident Paul Greene will be there to cheer them on.

Greene – a former sportscaster who became a lawyer a few years ago – has never met Haley Johnson, Lanny Barnes, Laura Spector and Sara Studebaker. But without his work as a lawyer, one member of that team might not have had the chance to chase Olympic gold.

Greene is one of only a few lawyers in the country who specialize in representation of Olympic athletes. That can mean taking the case of a sprinter accused of using banned substances, or arguing on behalf of a speed skater who felt she was unfairly kept off the national team. All of those disputes are heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Just in the past month, Greene has represented 14 Olympic athletes in three separate cases before an arbitrator. There's even a chance his services could be needed during the Games, should there be a dispute.

"It's exciting. When you're out there, you never know what is going to happen," said Greene, who left for Vancouver on Saturday with his wife, Julie. They had never attended the Olympics.

Greene recently represented the U.S. women's biathlon team in an emergency arbitration hearing. An athlete who had competed for Belarus in the 2006 Olympics, and who then immigrated to the United States, claimed she was wrongfully left off team USA. Greene argued that Ekaterina Vinogradova was disqualified because she had competed for Belarus in March 2008, which was against the U.S. team's rules.

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