Ruta Meilutyte, Olympic swimming champ, faces possible ban for missed drug tests

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Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte, the surprise 2012 Olympic 100m breaststroke champion, could be suspended up to two years after missing three drug tests in a one-year span, according to the Lithuanian Swimming Federation.

Meilutyte, who earned gold as a 15-year-old and remains the youngest Olympic champion this millennium, missed drug tests on April 22, 2018; Aug. 19, 2018 and March 28.

Missing three tests in a 12-month span can be tantamount to a failed test and subject to up to a two-year ban, though it can be reduced to as little as one year depending on the athlete’s degree of fault and doping record (Meilutyte has a clean record).

This is key, for a two-year ban would keep her out of the Tokyo Olympics, while a one-year ban would give her time to return for a third Olympic appearance.

Recall that Olympic 100m hurdles champion Brianna McNeal was banned for three missed tests in 2017, but under unusual circumstances and with her clean record, had it reduced to one year.

Athletes across Olympic sports must register daily time windows and locations where they are available for random out-of-competition drug tests. Sometimes missed tests are due to a “filing failure,” where the athlete incorrectly filled out this information.

Meilutyte stunned at the London Games, where she dropped 1.74 seconds off her personal best in the 100m breast prelims, clocking the fastest time of the field. She went even faster in the semifinals and final, upsetting American favorite Rebecca Soni, who had the eight fastest times in the world in 2011.

Meilutyte followed that with gold and silver at the 2013 and 2015 Worlds before dropping to seventh at the Rio Games. She held the 100m breast world record for four years before American Lilly King reset it in 2017.

Meilutyte ranked seventh in the world last year.

(h/t @AlexPussieldi)

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