SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- All athletes competing at the Sydney 2000 Olympics will have access to a free legal service.
The New South Wales Bar Association on Thursday unveiled its Olympic pro bono plan, which involves 50 lawyers who volunteered to assist athletes in any Australian Court or the Court of Arbitration for Sports.
Michael Slattery, who organized the plan, said lawyers would be available 24 hours a day.
"The regulation of sport has become extraordinarily complex and the athletes are far more regularly calling on barristers to make sure these complex rules are applied with fairness," he said.
Slattery said he expected the bulk of cases to involve positive doping tests and disputes over team selections after the Sept.15-Oct. 1 games begin.
"We are not offering free help to drug cheats, we are offering help to people who have been accused of a variety of misdemeanors and who may or may not be guilty," he said.
"We are offering athletes the same fairness in defending charges as they would be offered under Australian law."
Slattery said many nations have legal advisers traveling with their Olympic teams, but athletes from some African, Asian, South American and eastern European teams might benefit from the free help.
Most criminal and civil courts in Sydney will be closed during the Olympics.