London - The British Olympic Association said on Tuesday it was dismayed by the decision of a group of athletes to pursue legal action while holding talks regarding the International Olympic Committee's controversial Rule 40.
The regulation restricts the deals athletes can strike for themselves during a specific period in and around the Games, with the aim to protect IOC and national team sponsors from their commercial rivals.
British sprinter Adam Gemili, however, has labelled the rule "ridiculous, unjust and unfair" ahead of next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo.
There are 20 names listed on a legal letter sent to the BOA last month but the governing body said it would contest any action because of its duty to all Olympic sport in Britain.
"The BOA can confirm it has formally responded to the recent legal challenge brought against the BOA's interpretation of the IOC's Rule 40 in the UK," it said in a statement.
The BOA added it had enjoyed a "positive meeting" last week with representatives of the athletes who had challenged Rule 40 and remained open to a resolution that balanced the need for individual athletes to maximise their income while defending a system that has sold rights collectively on behalf of all of Team GB, including "smaller" sports and "less high-profile athletes".
Officials insisted that despite "encouraging" conversations they had been "dismayed by the ongoing legal tactics being conducted in the background" and would respond robustly in defence of all those served by the BOA, a not-for-profit independent organisation that receives no tax payer or British government funds.