"I did not become an athlete for reasons like this."
This statement was shared yesterday on Facebook by Justin Reiter, a snowboarder from Steamboat Springs, after a court appearance in Switzerland related to a lawsuit he filed against the International Olympic Committee.
The reason for the complaint: the IOC's decision to drop parallel snowboard racing — a discipline in which Reiter specializes — from the list of official Olympic sports.
According to Reiter, his challenge is the first of its kind. On a RallyMe.com website devoted to raising funds and awareness for his cause, he writes, "An individual athlete has never challenged the IOC on behalf of an entire discipline, and an individual athlete has never filed suit against the IOC to reverse a decision affecting an entire sport.
"I am personally taking on one of the largest sporting organizations in the world," he adds.
Here's how Reiter describes the campaign on the RallyMe site:
In August of this year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the removal of the snowboarding discipline of Parallel Snowboard Racing from the roster of Olympic Sports. In doing so it not only clearly violated it's own rules, which prohibit changing an Olympic Schedule within three years of the winter olympic games, but once again showed the world that the IOC does not care about the athletes.
I decided enough was enough, and that I had to take a stand. I therefore filed a lawsuit against the IOC, in the IOC's hometown of Lausanne (Switzerland) in hopes of legally reversing the decision and restoring Parallel Slalom's place on the schedule for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
To properly legally challenge the IOC, and have a chance at succeeding, I have had to hire a team of lawyers: one in the US, and one in Switzerland. As you can imagine, this legal battle will be expensive: there is not question about that, and on my own, I cannot afford to finish it. My attorneys have estimated that the fees and costs associated with this litigation will probably top $175,000.
I've started the process, but I need your help to fight and win against the IOC so that athletes of all ages and all sports can gain a voice to speak out for themselves and be heard.
Reither's got a long way to go. Thus far, a little over $8,000 has been pledged toward his $175,000 goal. But he hasn't let that stop him. On Friday, he shared the following photo of him and his legal team....
...along with this note: "After months of preparation these are the first steps we take towards overcoming a huge obstacle imposed upon us by the IOC. It is my sincere hope to inspire change within the athletic community and that you all can stand with us. Thank you."
Later that day, Reiter issued a press release revealing the news that the presiding judge in the case had allowed the lawsuit to move forward in Swiss civil court.
As evidence of this ruling, Reiter was issued an official certificate that proudly showed off in a photograph.
Here's that shot.
A statement in the release reads:
While I appreciate the apologies of the IOC's counsel, I believe our victory today is important. The Court has recognized that I have a legitimate claim, and will allow this suit to proceed in its Court. I look forward to justice being served, and I'm thankful to the Court in Lausanne for their time and service.
In a subsequent Facebook post, Reiter prefaced this remark with a photo from Switzerland....
and the following comment: "Headed home after a successful trip to Switzerland. I did not become an athlete for reasons like this. However I cannot sit idly by and watch the International Olympic Committee destroy the sport I love and crush young athletes dreams."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.