Olympic gold medalist Brianna Rollins has been suspended for a year for failing to properly file whereabouts information for drug testing.
Rollins, the winner of the 100-meter hurdles in Rio, appealed to a three-member panel of arbitrators after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency notified her of the potential violation.
Two of the whereabouts failures occurred in September after Rollins won her Olympic gold. The panel recognized that the failures "were when 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 panel determined Rollins’ 12-month suspension began on Dec. 19, the date she was notified by USADA.
Athletes are required to enter their whereabouts information so that they may be tested out of competition. Under the world anti-doping code, three failures results in a violation.
In the decision announced Thursday, the panel noted it was Rollins' 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 wrote. "As agreed by Claimant she shows no evidence of avoiding testing, masking drug use, or using drugs."
In a statement, Rollins said she was confused by the whereabouts program and accepted responsibility for the mistake.
“It is with my deepest regrets that I will have to miss the 2017 outdoor season," she 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. This is a very unpleasant experience, but I am able to see where errors were made.
"Understanding this will prevent any similar issues in the future, I will accept the sanction and work to prepare myself for my return in 2018. I would also like to urge all my fellow track athletes to be aware of the importance in filing correct whereabouts notifications, and to fully understand the implications of what could happen if errors are made.”
Rollins, 25, was tested eight times in competition and eight times out of competition in 2016. But she received whereabouts failures for being unavailable for testing by the IAAF on April 27 and Sept. 27 as well as being unavailable for testing by USADA on Sept. 13.
She was clean when tested out of competition on May 3, six days after her first missed test. And she was clean when tested Oct. 14, 31 and 17 days after the missed tests in September.
The panel noted that her whereabouts failure on April 27 "was a case involving some confusion on her part about the workings of the computer filing system. While we find she has failed to show a complete absence of negligence as to that Incident, 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 decision also noted USA Track and Field's involvement in the case. "USATF, the national governing body (“NGB”) of which Respondent is a member, received a copy of each of the agencies’ letters to Respondent charging her with first and second violations. It did nothing to inquire with its athlete as to the circumstances and to assure future compliance. 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."
Rollins, the 2013 IAAF world champion in the 100 hurdles who competed at Clemson, led a U.S. sweep of the event in Rio.
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