Olympic champ Rollins banned for one year by USADA

Los Angeles: Reigning Olympic 100m hurdles champion Brianna Rollins has been handed a one-year suspension for failing to properly file whereabouts information for out-of-competition testing, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said Thursday.

Her punishment includes loss of all results retroactive to 27 September 2016, the date of her last missed whereabouts report, but doesn’t affect the Rio gold won by Rollins.

The ban would keep her out of this year’s IAAF World Championships in August at London.

USADA said in a statement that the 25-year-old athlete, who led a US podium sweep of the 100m hurdles at the Rio Games, received three “whereabouts failures” over the course of 12 months, which constitutes a doping rule violation.

Rollins did complete eight out-of-competition tests over the course of 2016 and did not test positive. She also passed all eight in-competition drug tests she took last year.

But Rollins was unavailable for tests on 27 April, 13 September and 27 September, for reasons that appear in the written report by the panel from the American Arbitration Association that heard her appeal to be mix-ups.

A statement released by her representatives said at least one of the missed tests was the result of confusion over the computer program used to give whereabouts to drug testing officials.

While the panel found that a violation had indeed occurred, in their written decision they noted that the case involved “the imposition of a serious penalty on a brilliant athlete who is not charged or suspected of using banned substances of any kind.”

“This is a first offense, she had been frequently tested for years, and she has a perfect drug-free record, both in and out-of-competition,” the panel said of Rollins. “Her clean tests included an out-of-competition test on 3 May 2016 (six days after Incident One) and an out-of-competition test on 14 October 2016 (31 and 17 days, respectively, after Incidents Two and Three).”

The arbitrators added that Rollins showed “no evidence of avoiding testing, masking drug use, or using drugs.”

The abitrators noted that two of the violations came after Rollins’ Rio victory, when she was traveling in one instance to her home State of Florida to be honored and in another to be received by US President Barack Obama, honors that “could reasonably distract her from her quotidian (though important) responsibilities.”

They ruled that Rollins had shown “the least degree of fault” and therefore made her suspension for one year only, the least allowable penalty.

“It is with my deepest regrets that I will have to miss the 2017 outdoor season,” Rollins said in a statement. “I accept full responsibility for the mistakes that have led to my suspension, and am disappointed that I will have to miss this coming outdoor season, as a result of my confusion over how the whereabouts program worked.

“I have always been and continue to be a supporter of USADA and their fight to keep our sport clean, and I will continue to do my part to prove that success can be achieved without taking any shortcuts … I will accept the sanction and work to prepare myself for my return in 2018.”

         

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