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1ST LEAD Dutch gymnast van Gelder suspended, but manager wants to challenge By Frank Thomas, dpa

Europe
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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - Dutch gymnast Yuri van Gelder was suspended by the Dutch Olympic team on Tuesday and told to return home after a night-time escapade involving alcohol, a decision that the athlete‘s manager said he would challenge.

The specialist on the rings - earning him the nickname "Lord of the Rings" - spent the night outside the Olympic village with his Brazilian girlfriend, returning only in the early morning hours. He admitted he had been out drinking, team officials said.

This was in violation of Dutch Olympic team rules that athletes who were still competing were to abstain from alcohol and must remain in the village. Van Gelder, 33, had advanced to the finals before his drinking tour, with a chance for winning a medal.

"Van Gelder has grossly violated the norms and values in place for TeamNL and the gymnastics team," the Dutch national olympic committee NOCNSF said in a press statement.

The Chef de Mission of the Dutch team, Maurits Hendriks, defended the expulsion decision. "This is terrible for Yuri, but such behaviour is unacceptable," he said. The team had "no other choice" than to dismiss him.

But the athlete‘s manager, Orland van den Bosch, announced he would take legal steps against the suspension. He said the Dutch Olympic team‘s regulation was only issued verbally, and in writing. "Yuri is stricken and broken," van den Bosch told the Dutch news agency ANP.

It was not the first scandal involving van Gelder, who in 2005 was both world and European champion. In 2009 a doping control detected cocaine abuse, earning him a one-year suspension.

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