Bahrain’s 400m world champion Naser gets provisional doping ban

Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain celebrating her Women’s 400m victory at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha
Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain celebrating her Women’s 400m victory at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha

… says missing three drugs tests in a year ‘is normal

World 400m champion Salwa Eid Naser has been given a provisional suspension for failing to make herself available for anti-doping tests and could face a ban of up to two years for the whereabouts violation.

World Athletics anti-doping rules say a whereabouts violation consists of any combination of three missed tests or filing failures in a 12-month period.

Naser switched allegiance to Bahrain in 2014, when she was 16. That year she turned heads at the Youth Olympic Games when she won 400m silver while wearing a hijab and a full bodysuit.

She cuts a different figure now, competing in short shorts and a sleeveless midriff-bearing top. Naser also sports five body piercings, nine tattoos and often has dyed hair, unusual for a female Muslim athlete representing a conservative Gulf state such as Bahrain.

Elite athletes are required to provide the AIU got it with their whereabouts 90 days in advance so they can be subjected to out-of-competition doping tests.

Under World Athletics’ rules, any combination of three whereabouts failures (filing failure and/or missed test) within a period of 12 months constitutes an anti-doping rule violation, for which the sanction is two years’ ineligibility subject to a reduction to a minimum of one year depending on the athlete’s degree of fault.

The 22-year old born Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu in Anambra State to Nigerian parents clocked 48.14 seconds to win the one-lap race at the Doha worlds, placing her third in the all-time list behind Marita Koch (47.60 in 1985) and Jarmila Kratochvilova (47.99 in 1983).

Naser’s gold medal-winning performance in Doha made her just the second woman to win a global-level title for Bahrain, following in the footsteps of Ethiopian-born Maryam Yusuf Jamal, who won two world 1,500m titles (2007, 2009) and was upgraded to Olympic gold in the 2012 London Games after the initial winner and runner-up were both banned for biological passport irregularities.

However, she has made the extraordinary claim that missing three drugs tests within a period of 12 months “is normal” after she was provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit.

“I’ve never been a cheat. I will never be. I only missed three drug tests, which is normal. It happens. It can happen to anybody. I don’t want people to get confused in all this because I would never cheat,” she said an Instagram live video.

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