The Olympic 100m hurdles champion Brianna Rollins has been banned for a year by the United States Anti-Doping Agency after missing three drugs tests in 2016 – two of them after she forgot to update her whereabouts details when she was attending a fete of honour in her hometown and travelling to the White House to meet the president.
The 25-year-old, who led a historic 1-2-3 USA sweep in Rio, with Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin finishing second and third, was punished under the World Anti-Doping Agency Code for failing to properly file whereabouts information on three occasions in a 12-month period.
Rollins said: “It is with my deepest regrets that I have to miss the 2017 outdoor season. I accept full responsibility for the mistakes that led to my suspension, and I am disappointed that I will have to miss this coming outdoor season, as a result of my confusion over how the whereabouts system worked. I have always been 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 shortcuts. This is a very unpleasant experience, but I am able to see where errors were made. I will accept the sanction and prepare myself for my return in 2018.”
Usada said that Rollins had received her first failure after being unavailable for IAAF testing on 27 April 2016 because she went to catch a flight. The others were in September 2016 when she forgot to update her details, first when she was travelling for a parade of honour in her hometown and then when she went to Washington to meet the then president Barack Obama.
In a statement, the American Arbitration Association, which ruled on the case, said it had sympathy for Rollins, who has run the fourth-fastest 100m hurdles’ time in history, because of the unusual circumstances surrounding two of her three missed tests.
“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,” it said. “Respondent is justly admired. Respondent won an Olympic hold 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.
“The two conceded whereabouts failures, Incidents 2 and 3, were when she was travelling to have a parade in her honour in her hometown in Florida and to celebrate ‘Brianna Rollins Day’ and when she went to visit the White House to be feted by the President. However, while there is much at stake for Respondent, there is not much in dispute as to the facts or law of this case.”
The start of Rollins’ 12-month period of ineligibility was backdated to 19 December 2016, the day on which Usada formally notified her of her potential rule violation. As a result, Rollins’ competitive results obtained on and subsequent to 27 September 2016, the date of her third whereabouts failure, have been disqualified and any medals, points, and prizes are forfeited.