Olympic Champ Bri Rollins Gets Year Suspension For Missing Three Drug Tests

Olympic Champ Bri Rollins Gets Year Suspension For Missing Three Drug Tests
Photo: Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced today that 100 meter hurdles Olympic and world champion Brianna Rollins retroactively started a one-year suspension on December 19, 2016. Rollins did not test positive for anything, but she did miss three tests last year, one in April and two tests two weeks apart in September. Athletes in certain testing pools have to register their whereabouts--in this case two of the tests were supposed to be conducted by the IAAF and another by USADA.

The third missed test was on September 27, and after an unsuccessful appeal, Rollins will have all of her results stripped since then. That part of the sanction is meaningless, as Rollins has not raced since winning the Olympic final in August. She led a historic 1-2-3 sweep in the 100 meter hurdles in Rio, with fellow Americans Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin finishing second and third.

All three violations are described in the appeal and come across as more comic incompetence than nefariousness. The first violation came when she said she would be home in California from 7:00-8:00 AM on April 27, but at the Drake Relays April 27-30. The report says that "when reached by phone at 7:08 a.m., [Rollins] indicated that she was on her way to the airport for a flight." The drug tester then comes to the airport, but Rollins had already gone through security. The IAAF told Rollins immediately that this counted as a missed test and asked her to respond in writing, which her camp never did.

Rollins said in her appeal that she thought her Drake entry eliminated her morning California entry when she put the former in the whereabouts system.

The second violation has Rollins filing her whereabouts at home and at training, but a drug tester going to her home and being told she is actually in Florida. The third violation is similar: a drug tester calls Rollins at 7:49 AM from her house, Rollins answers and says she's in Atlanta, and claims that she had updated her whereabouts filings. The IAAF claims that the filings were, in fact, not updated; Rollins claims that an email she sent seven days before saying "will be in Atlanta tomorrow" covers it.

The arbitration panel writes that Rollins's travel for the second and third violations were from when she was flying to the White House to be honored by President Obama, and to Miami to be honored at Brianna Rollins Day at her high school. The panel also notes that USATF, USADA, the IAAF, and Rollins's agents did not help her after the first two violations, saying that "we do note that the computer filing system and the agencies connected with it have failed to design it to assist the athletes as much as possible to avoid confusion...The NGB left her on her own. Respondent's own sports agency did not involve itself in her compliance activities or problems. Only after the third Incident, when it was too late, did they help her fashion her response."

Because of these mitigating factors--and Rollins's clean testing record--the panel reduced a possible two-year sanction to one.

USADA flack Ryan Madden has a statement from Rollins's camp:

Rollins was unsuccessfully represented by legendary sports lawyer Howard Jacobs, who has defended athletes in hundreds of doping cases.

The entire appeal is below.

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