Bahraini sprinter won her world 400m title while there was an ongoing investigation into an alleged three whereabouts failures in 2019
Salwa Eid Naser had three whereabouts failures in 2019, before she won world 400m gold in Doha, and recorded a fourth in January of this year, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has said.
News of Naser’s provisional suspension was announced on Friday but at that time the AIU did not release any further information about when the whereabouts failures had happened.
According to NBC’s OlympicTalk, Naser said in an Instagram live video, which is no longer available to view, that she “only missed three drug tests, which is normal”.
She is also quoted as saying: “It happens. It can happen to anybody. I don’t want people to get confused in all this because I would never cheat.”
Under World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules, athletes are required to submit their whereabouts for one hour every day, plus overnight accommodation and training information, in case they are needed for out-of-competition testing.
An athlete is said to have violated anti-doping rules if they have any combination of three missed tests or filing failures within a 12-month period, starting on the day of the first relevant missed test or filing failure.
In a statement released on Sunday, the AIU said: “The investigation into Ms Naser’s three whereabouts failures in 2019 was ongoing at the time of the Doha World Championships and she was not provisionally suspended at that time.
“Following conclusion of the investigation and a fourth whereabouts failure in January 2020, a notice of charge was issued and Ms Naser subject to an immediate provisional suspension.
“The disciplinary process is ongoing and the AIU will not comment further on the matter at this stage.”
AIU statement in the matter concerning Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain.
— Athletics Integrity Unit (@aiu_athletics) June 7, 2020
The announcement of Naser’s provisional suspension comes eight months after the 22-year-old, who was born in Nigeria but represents Bahrain, stormed to world 400m victory in Doha, clocking 48.14 for a near one-second PB to beat Bahamas’ Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo.
It was the fastest 400m for 34 years and moved Naser to third on the world 400m all-time list behind Marita Koch (47.60) and Jarmila Kratochvilova (47.99).
In Doha Naser also formed part of Bahrain’s mixed 4x400m relay team which claimed bronze behind the USA and Jamaica, finishing one place ahead of the Great Britain & NI team.