Salwa Eid Naser, world 400m champion, cleared in drug-testing case

Salwa Eid Naser
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Salwa Eid Naser, the world 400m champion from Bahrain, was cleared of a potential suspension in a drug-testing case that could have kept her out of the Tokyo Olympics.

A disciplinary tribunal dismissed a missed drug test after the tester knocked on a storage unit door rather than her apartment in confusion of her location.

“This was a case very much on the borderline,” according to the report.

On Oct. 3, 2019, Naser won the world title in Doha in 48.14 seconds, the third-fastest time in history and the fastest in 34 years.

On June 4, Naser was provisionally suspended until a future hearing on her case for missing three drug tests in a 12-month span, which normally constitutes a one-to-two-year suspension. Naser said that the missed tests all came before the 2019 World Championships.

“I’ve never been a cheat. I will never be,” Naser said in June. “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.

“I would never take performance-enhancing drugs. I believe in talent, and I know I have the talent.”

After the Oct. 6 hearing, a disciplinary tribunal cleared Naser of one of those missed drug tests from April 12, 2019.

A doping-control officer who came to test her that morning was thrown off by “extremely confusing” numbering on the building doors. Her address was also incorrect in the system, according to the tribunal’s report.

The tester ended up knocking on the door of a storage unit that contained a number of gas canisters “which are immediately visible when you look up above the door,” according to the tribunal’s report, which described it as “comical were the consequences not so serious.”

The report also revealed that Naser had a fourth strike for a missed test from Jan. 24, 2020, but that came more than 12 months after the first strike from Jan. 1, 2019.

The first strike was listed more specifically as a failing failure for providing incorrect whereabouts information on where to be found for drug testing. Though the drug-test attempt came March 16, it was backdated to the first day of the quarter to Jan. 1, which in this case saved Naser from a suspension for three strikes in a 12-month period. Whereabouts forms are filed on a quarterly basis.

Suspensions can be backdated after athlete request, but the report stated that if she wasn’t cleared of the missed test, the ban would not have been backdated to before the world championships to disqualify her victory.

However, if Naser wasn’t cleared of the missed test and received a full two-year ban that wasn’t backdated to before the world championships, the suspension would have run through the Tokyo Olympics.

The Athletics Integrity Unit, which handles doping cases in track and field, can appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport within 30 days.

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Chicago Marathon features Emily Sisson’s return, Conner Mantz’s debut, live on Peacock

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At Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, Emily Sisson makes her return, nearly three years after Olympic Trials disappointment. Conner Mantz makes one of the most anticipated U.S. men’s debuts in 26.2-mile racing.

It is not the norm, but an American will be one of the spotlight runners in both the men’s and women’s elite races at a major marathon. Peacock airs live coverage at 8 a.m. ET.

Sisson, 30, starts her first mass marathon since dropping out of the Olympic Trials on Feb. 29, 2020, her legs “destroyed” on the hilly Atlanta course where she started as arguably the favorite. She ran the virtual New York City Marathon later in 2020, but that was solo (and not in New York City). Her 2:38:00 isn’t recorded in her official results on her World Athletics bio.

Since, Sisson won the Olympic Trials 10,000m on the track and was the top American in Tokyo in 10th place. She moved back to the roads, winning national titles at 15km and the half marathon and breaking the American record in the latter.

Sisson vaulted into the elite group of U.S. female marathoners in 2019, when she clocked the second-fastest debut marathon in American history, a 2:23:08 on a windy day in London, where the early pace was slow.

At the time, it was the 12th-best U.S. performance all-time. In the last two years, Keira D’Amato, 37, and Sara Hall, 39, combined to run seven faster marathons. At Chicago, a flat course that produced a world record three years ago, Sisson can answer them and perhaps get close to D’Amato’s American record 2:19:12.

“I’m hoping sub-2:20,” coach Ray Treacy said, according to LetsRun.com. “With the [super] shoes and the training behind her, I would think that’s [worth] at least three minutes.”

It is less likely that Sisson can challenge for the win on Sunday given the presence of Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich, the 2019 World champion and defending champion in the Windy City. The 28-year-old mom is the fifth-fastest woman in history with a personal best of 2:17:08. And Ethiopian Ruti Aga, a podium finisher in Berlin, New York City and Tokyo with a best time of 2:18:34, though she has one marathon finish since the pandemic (a seventh place).

Like Sisson, Mantz has shown strong recent road racing form. The American men’s debut marathon record of 2:07:56 (Leonard Korir) is in play. If he can break that, Mantz will be among the five fastest U.S. marathoners in history.

Rarely has a U.S. male distance runner as accomplished as Mantz moved up to the marathon at such a young age (25). At BYU, he won NCAA cross-country titles in 2020 and 2021 and placed fifth in the Olympic Trials 10,000m, then turned pro and won the U.S. Half Marathon Championships last December.

“If everything goes as planned, I think sub-2:08 is realistic,” Mantz said in a Citius Mag video interview last month. “If everything goes perfect on the day, I think a sub-2:07, that’s a big stretch goal.”

The men’s field doesn’t have the singular star power of Chepngetich, but a large group of East Africans with personal bests around 2:05. The most notable: defending champion Seifu Tura of Ethiopia and 2021 Boston Marathon winner Benson Kipruto of Kenya.

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Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

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Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

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