In a tearful social media video, Olympic 100m hurdles champion Dawn Harper-Nelson said Thursday that she was “afraid for my life” because she’s not allowed to take prescribed blood-pressure medication that is banned by anti-doping authorities.
“I just want to say that this is not fair, that I’m afraid for my life,” she said. “I’m about to go into urgent care, because my blood pressure’s really high again. And USADA [U.S. Anti-Doping Agency] said I can’t take the medicine the doctors giving me. And they’re giving me a new medicine. This is just not OK. My head’s bothering me, my vision’s kind of blurry, and they said my blood pressure is high. I’m scared. People need to be aware, this is not cool.”
Harper-Nelson is serving a three-month ban after previously taking a prescribed medication and failing to learn that it contained a banned substance. She said she was prescribed the medication after being rushed to an emergency room and diagnosed with high blood pressure. The ban ends March 1.
Athletes can request therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) through USADA if they have an illness or condition that requires the use of medication listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List. It’s not clear if Harper-Nelson has requested a TUE for medication containing a banned substance.
Harper-Nelson tested positive for the banned diuretic hydrochlorothiazide, which is on the prohibited list, and related metabolites on Dec. 1, according to USADA:
Harper-Nelson’s explanation that her positive test was caused by a blood pressure medication she was prescribed by a physician to treat hypertension. Harper-Nelson further explained that she made efforts to determine if the medication contained prohibited substances; however, due to using partial search terms, those efforts were unsuccessful.
On Thursday, A USADA official reached out to Harper-Nelson on Twitter. USADA has not commented on the situation.
Harper-Nelson won the 2008 Olympic 100m hurdles title and took silver behind Sally Pearson in 2012. She failed to make the Rio Olympic team, getting eliminated in the Olympic Trials semifinals.
The U.S. trio in Rio swept the medals — Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin.
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