Olympics: Dutch court upholds ban on 'Lord of the Rings' gymnast over night out

Dutch gymnast Yuri van Gelder sits at the start of the case at the court of Arnhem, on Aug 12, 2016.
Dutch gymnast Yuri van Gelder sits at the start of the case at the court of Arnhem, on Aug 12, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

THE HAGUE (AFP) - A Dutch court on Friday (Aug 12) threw out a bid by banished gymnast Yuri Van Gelder, dubbed the "Lord of the Rings", to compete in the men's rings finals in Rio.

The judge at an emergency court hearing in Arnhem ruled Van Gelder "has lost the case" against the Dutch Olympics Committee, which barred him from continuing in the competition after a night out on the town.

Van Gelder, 33, the 2005 men's rings World Champion, told the court he had drunk "four or five beers" when he left the Olympic Village after coming seventh in Saturday's qualification - earning a place in Monday's finals.

He insisted he had not known there was going to be training on Sunday as "usually the day after competition I never train".

As a consequence, he missed the session as he had only returned in the early hours of Sunday.

But TeamNL said his behaviour had been "unacceptable" and it had been "left with no choice" but to ban him from continuing.

The lawyer for the Dutch Olympics Committee (NOS-NSF), Harro Kniff, said the ban had been "proportional" to his behaviour as Van Gelder had broken the rules imposed on the Dutch team, which had "had a negative effect on the other members".

Kniff also revealed that Van Gelder had left the Olympic Village, without permission, on the eve of his qualifying competition to meet his girlfriend at the airport, and had been uncontactable, despite strict security measures in place for all athletes in Rio.

But the gymnast's lawyer, Cor Hellingman, said the decision to boot him off the team and put him swiftly on a plane back to The Netherlands was "too quick, and too harsh".

"Missing training, coming back late or drinking alcohol are not part of the conditions" set between the NOS-NSF and the athletes, Hellingman said.

The court disagreed however, saying the committee "does not have to go back on its decision" adding it will publish its full decision next week.

It's not the first time that Van Gelder has landed himself in hot water.

In 2009 he tested positive for cocaine use during the Dutch championships and was suspended for a year. He was treated for addiction in France.

His place in Monday's finals has been given to Frenchman Danny Pinheiro Rodrigues.