Salwa Eid Naser, of Bahrain, right, wins the gold medal in the women’s 400 metre final ahead of Shaunae Miller-Uibo at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Shaunae Miller-Uibo looks at the scoreboard after winning silver in the women’s 400 metre final at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
#Shaunae Miller-Uibo may have been the athlete most impacted by Salwa Eid Naser’s doping rule violation and the Bahamian athletics icon spoke publicly to express her views on the controversial decision.
#According to a ruling by the Athletics Integrity Unit, Bahrain’s Naser, the reigning 400m world champion, avoided a ban for the aforementioned violation on a technicality after charges for missed tests and filing failures were dismissed by an independent tribunal.
#Miller-Uibo issued a statement via social media strongly criticising the ruling and challenged World Athletics to take action.
#“My concern is not just with the athlete missing four tests and having the charges dismissed. It’s with the international federation and the integrity unit that was assembled to protect this sport. In my opinion, the World Athletics and the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) were caught with their hands in the cookie jar as it pertains to this case. I was interested to see how this turn of events would transpire,” she said.
#“I think this strengthens the need for an independent body to serve alongside the World Athletics appointed athlete representatives. With the independent athletes’ body, more accountability will be given as we try our best to rebuild trust and integrity in our beloved sport…I cry foul play and I believe there is a deeper explanation on how the World Athletics along with the AIU allowed this to carry on to this extent.
#“Please, President Sebastian Coe, I would like to believe that we athletes deserve a response from you detailing each step of all the failures that unfolded since this case began. I am bold enough to believe that we the athletes who have to endure error after error and still do our best and uphold our sport, deserve at least this one request.
#“In my opinion, this federation has shown us over and repeatedly that they have to put their best foot forward to protect the athletes and keep the sport clean. A better job needs to be done and I, along with many other athletes in our sport, are waiting for a better result on this matter.”
#As a result of the ruling, Naser will keep her World Championship title and has been cleared to compete at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
#According to the Associated Press, the technicality was “counting back the date of a rule violation to take effect from the start of a three month period.”
#Naser was charged by the AIU for at least three “whereabouts failures” within a 12-month period, which can lead to a two-year ban. Athletes must give updates on a World Anti-Doping Agency online platform where they can be found for no-notice testing outside of competition. A violation means an athlete gave wrong information or was not where they said they would be when sample collectors arrived.
#Miller-Uibo questioned the ruling based on the timeline and the precedent set by previous cases while citing the mandated punishment on the AIU’s own website.
#“The facts are as follows: The first missed test took place on March 12 2019, the second was a missed test that was considered a filing failure on March 16 2019 (which is now being backdated somehow to January 1 2019), the third missed test was on April 12 2019, followed by a fourth missed test on January 24 2020.
#“The three that I am most concerned with are the ones from March 12 to April 12 2019. My question to World Athletics and the AIU is why no action was taken according to the consequences posted on the athleticsintegrity.org site, which states that:
#“Under the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules, any combination of three whereabouts failures (Filing Failure and/or Missed Test) within a period of 12 months constitute an anti-doping rule violation, for which the applicable sanction is two years’ ineligibility subject to a reduction to a minimum of one year depending on your degree or fault.
#“Whereabouts failures will be systematically and strictly enforced by the AIU. Athletes’ compliance with the Whereabouts programme is crucial and the AIY expects your full cooperation to avoid Whereabouts Failures.”
#“During this period, other athletes who had violated or at worst been accused of violating this rule we served provisional suspensions. If the World Athletics and the AIU knew of this, why wasn’t a provisional suspension served to the athlete? Why in this case was the athlete not provisionally suspended until a year or two months later?”
#Naser’s fourth violation, scheduled to be taken on April 12, 2019, at her apartment in Riffa, Bahrain was missed because a doping control official was unable to find her between 6-7am.
#According to the AIU, the events of the morning “would have been comical were the consequences not so serious,” after the official was given the wrong address and was not given a phone number.
#“Again I must reiterate, that my concern is with World Athletics and the AIU and the role they play. As senior administrators, their purpose is to protect and advance their athletes to the best of their abilities.
#“With the recent turn of events, with their littered errors, in my view, opens the door to many questions. What took them so long to make this information public?
#“How is it possible that this case lingered on until World Championships, which was in October 2019 and not once were the athletes informed, or the athlete in question provisionally suspended like others that were in the same position? There are case studies that can be provided to support that athletes were provisionally suspended until the case was heard before a tribunal. There were two cases in particular with both athletes missing their third test dated April 19 and April 26 and both were provisionally suspended in the month of August,” Miller-Uibo said.
#“We need to ensure that in athletics, we the athletes are not competing against any administrators whose only goal is for athletes to run faster, jump higher, jump further and throw further at any cost.”
#Naser, who ran the third-fastest 400m in history when she pulled away from Miller-Uibo on the final curve to snatch the gold at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar, was provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit in June.
#She ran 48.14 seconds to claim a surprise gold medal, beating the reigning Olympic champion, Miller-Uibo, who had to settle for the silver in a national and NACAC area record of 48.37 seconds.
#Naser’s time was the fastest in 34 years, with only the East German Marita Koch, in 1985, and the Czech athlete Jarmila Kratochvílová, in 1983, having run faster.
#While Kotch nor Kratochvílová failed a drug test, their times are regarded as suspicious given drug-taking in eastern Europe was systemic and state-sponsored during the 70s and 80s.
#Three years ago at the 2017 World Championships in London, England, Naser won the 400m silver medal behind American Phyllis Francis.
#Miller-Uibo had a comfortable lead going onto the home stretch about 30 metres from the finish line, but pulled up and ended up in fourth place.
#Miller-Uibo went on a sensational 25-month winning streak in both the 200 and 400m races since the defeat and the build up to the much anticipated rematch with Naser in Doha.