Olympic 100m hurdles champion Brianna Rollins has been handed a one-year ban for failing to properly file whereabouts information, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced on Thursday.
USADA said that the 25-year-old, who also won the world sprint hurdles title in 2013, had been unavailable for testing on three dates in 2016 – the first being April 27, the second on September 13 and the third on September 27.
In a statement, USADA said: “Outside of these whereabouts failures, Rollins completed eight out-of-competition tests over the course of 2016. However, under the rules of international Olympic sport, including the IAAF Anti-Doping Policy, the United States Olympic Committee National Anti-Doping Policies, and the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing (the USADA Protocol), all of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code, the combination of three whereabouts failures within a 12-month period constitutes a rule violation.”
In its decision document, the American Arbitration Association (AAA), which ruled on the case, said Rollins had been unavailable for testing on April 27 because she had gone to catch a flight and that this “was a case involving some confusion on her part about the workings of the computer filing system”. The panel noted that Rollins had been unavailable for testing on the second and third occasions as she was “travelling to have a parade in her honor in her home town in Florida and to celebrate “Brianna Rollins Day,” and when she went to visit the White House to be feted by the President”.
The AAA decision document continued to read in part: “This is a difficult case because it involves the imposition of a serious penalty on a brilliant athlete who is not charged or suspected of using banned substances of any kind. Respondent is justly admired. Respondent won an Olympic gold medal during the months in question. She has never previously been charged with an anti-doping rule violation. She successfully submitted to in-competition tests eight times and out-of-competition tests eight times during 2016.”
It added: “We can understand that going to Florida to have her home town celebrate her with a parade and “Brianna Rollins Day,” and to the East Coast to meet the President and receive plaudits from the nation could reasonably distract her from her quotidian (though important) responsibilities. Under these facts and circumstances, we find that Respondent has carried her burden to show the least degree of fault. Therefore, the term of her ineligibility shall be one year.”
The USADA statement added: “As is every athlete’s right under the USADA Protocol, Rollins challenged the case in a live hearing before independent arbitrators. The AAA panel, whose members are also members of the North American Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), began Rollins’ 12-month period of ineligibility on December 19, 2016, the date on which USADA formally notified Rollins of her potential rule violation. As a result of the rule violation, Rollins’ competitive results obtained on and subsequent to September 27, 2016, the date of her third Whereabouts Failure, have been disqualified, and any medals, points, and prizes are forfeited.”
In a statement posted to her Instagram account, Rollins wrote: “Unfortunately I will not compete in the 2017 season, due to three missed tests with USADA. I was tested at least 16 times in 2016, but on these three times, and all for different reasons, I was not at my residence when USADA came to test me.
“I’ve always competed clean, and I am always happy to be tested to prove it. This is one of the most difficult times in my career, especially after having such a great 2016 season – all I wanted to do was capitalise on that but God has other plans.”
She added: “As much as this hurts, I am sure that I will be stronger and better from it. I will continue to work to improve myself and get ready for next year.”