Shaunae Miller-Uibo questions Salwa Eid Naser case of missed drug tests

Shaunae Miller-Uibo
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Bahamian sprinter Shaunae Miller-Uibo questioned Bahraini rival Salwa Eid Naser‘s case of missed drug tests from early 2019, for which she was cleared earlier this month after confusion of her location for one of the tests.

Naser, the world 400m champion, was provisionally suspended this past June, 14 months after the crucial third missed test, before being cleared.

“Why in this case was the athlete not provisionally suspended until a year and two months later?” was posted on Miller-Uibo’s social media on Wednesday, one day after it was announced that Naser was cleared.

If athletes miss three drug tests in a 12-month span, they can be suspended one to two years even if they’ve never failed a test.

Naser’s third missed test or filing failure was April 12, 2019, triggering an anti-doping rule violation.

“Although an administrative review of the April 2019 test was completed in August 2019, the AIU did not bring charges until June 2020,” according to the Naser tribunal decision published Tuesday, noting, among other arguments, that suspensions can be backdated.

The AIU, which handles doping cases in track and field and is independent of World Athletics, the sport’s international governing body, declined to comment specifically on Naser’s case.

“Whereabouts cases often involve complex factual scenarios that require investigation,” according to the AIU. “Cases are generally not concluded soon after the date of the third whereabouts failure, but often will only be finalized months later after all the necessary evidence supporting the charge is gathered. How long this takes depends on the specifics of each case.”

Naser received a provisional suspension on June 4, 2020, until a hearing could take place to determine the outcome of her case. The hearing was Oct. 6. The decision to clear Naser was made by three members of a disciplinary tribunal (whose members act independently of World Athletics and the AIU). The AIU can appeal within 30 days to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Miller noted the time span from the third missed test on April 12, 2019 — which was ultimately withdrawn over the location confusion — and the provisional suspension that began June 4, 2020.

In the 14 months in between, Naser won the world 400m title over Miller-Uibo, the Rio Olympic champion in the event, on Oct. 3, 2019. (Miller-Uibo has said she will likely not race the 400m at the Tokyo Games because she prefers the 200m and does not want to attempt a double under the original Olympic schedule that had the 400m first round and 200m final on the same day.)

Naser also missed another drug test on Jan. 24, 2020, that occurred more than 12 months after the date corresponding to the first strike in 2019.

Miller-Uibo noted two other unnamed athletes with cases of missing three drug tests in a 12-month span, with each’s third missed test also happening in April 2019.

The specific dates match cases for sprinters Christian Coleman and Michelle-Lee Ahye.

Coleman’s case was with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and not the AIU. He was charged over the three missed tests in August 2019 — but not suspended, USADA confirmed Wednesday — but the charge was withdrawn by early September, as his three strikes were in a span of more than 12 months. Coleman is now under provisional suspension in a separate AIU case of missed drug tests, pending the outcome of a hearing.

Ahye was provisionally suspended by the AIU in August 2019 and banned two years in January. Her case is in the appeals process.

Turning back to Naser’s case, Miller-Uibo asked, “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?”

Miller-Uibo asked for responses from World Athletics and the AIU addressing her concerns.

“We understand that the time this process takes can be frustrating, but the system must be independent, robust and thorough in order to maintain integrity,” according to World Athletics, which did not mention Naser’s case specifically in its Wednesday statement and forwarded a request for comment on Miller-Uibo’s post to the AIU. “This case is in the AIU’s jurisdiction.”

The AIU had a general response with this infographic that, according to the organization, it sent to all athletes in the primary drug-testing pool earlier this year.

The infographic states that, in normal circumstances, athletes are charged and provisionally suspended 30 days after confirmation of a third missed test but that it may take months depending on the specifics of individual cases.

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Taylor Fritz becomes crowd enemy at French Open

Taylor Fritz French Open

The French Open crowd was not happy with American player Taylor Fritz after he beat one of their own — indeed, their last man in the bracket — so they booed and whistle relentlessly. Fritz’s response? He told them to shush. Over and over again.

Fritz, a 25-year-old from California who is seeded No. 9 at Roland Garros, got into a back-and-forth with the fans at Court Suzanne Lenglen after his 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 comeback victory over 78th-ranked Arthur Rinderknech in the second round on Thursday night.

Rinderknech attempted a lob that landed long on the last point, and Fritz, who had been running toward the baseline to chase the ball, immediately looked up into the stands and pressed his right index finger to his lips to say, essentially, “Hush!”

He held that pose for a bit as he headed back toward the net for a postmatch handshake, then spread his arms wide, wind-milled them a bit as if to egg on the rowdiness, and yelled: “Come on! I want to hear it!”

During the customary winner’s on-court interview that followed, more jeers rained down on Fritz, and 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli kept pausing her attempts to ask a question into her microphone.

So Fritz again said, “Shhhhh!” and put his finger toward his mouth, while Bartoli unsuccessfully tried to get the spectators to lower their decibel level.

More boos. More whistles.

And the awkwardness continued as both Bartoli and a stadium announcer kept saying, “S’il vous plaît” — “Please!” — to no avail, while Fritz stood there with his arms crossed.

A few U.S. supporters with signs and flags drew Fritz’s attention from the front row, and he looked over and said to them, “I love you guys.”

But the interview was still on hold.

Bartoli tried asking a question in English, which only served to draw more boos.

So Fritz told her he couldn’t hear her. Bartoli moved closer and finally got out a query — but it didn’t seem to matter what her words were.

Fritz, who has been featured on the Netflix docuseries about tennis called “Break Point,” had his hands on his hips and a message on his mind — one reminiscent of Daniil Medvedev’s contretemps with fans at the 2019 U.S. Open.

“I came out and the crowd was so great honestly. Like, the crowd was just so great,” Fritz said, as folks tried to drown out his voice. “They cheered so well for me, I wanted to make sure that I won. Thanks, guys.”

And with that, he exited the stage.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

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French Open: Coco Gauff to face younger opponent for first time at a Grand Slam

Coco Gauff French Open

Coco Gauff‘s first 49 Grand Slam main draw singles matches were all against older opponents. Her 50th will be against a younger one.

The sixth-seeded Gauff reached the French Open third round by beating 61st-ranked Austrian Julia Grabher 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday. Gauff, 19, next plays 16-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva in the round of 32 on Saturday.

“I don’t see age as a factor,” said Gauff, who has practiced with Andreeva. “When you step on the court, you just see your opponent, and you don’t really think about the personal side of things. You just see forehand, backhand, serve, and all the same.”

Gauff made her major debut at age 15 in 2019 by beating Venus Williams at Wimbledon. In her 15 majors, Gauff has usually been the youngest male or female singles player, including most recently at 2022 Wimbledon. She is still the lone teenager in the WTA top 49.

But that may soon change. Youngsters from the Czech Republic and Russia are on the rise. Such as Andreeva, who, at No. 143 in the world and climbing, is the highest-ranked player under the age of 18. And she doesn’t turn 17 until next April. Andreeva dropped just six games in her first two matches, fewest of any woman.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

But Gauff is still in a class of her own among her generation, having at last year’s French Open become the youngest major finalist since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon at 17. She somehow flew somewhat under the radar into Paris this year with a 4-4 record this spring and in between full-time coaches.

She has now won back-to-back matches for the first time since March, rallying past 71st-ranked Spaniard Rebeka Masarova in the first round and then dispatching an error-prone Grabher, a runner-up at a low-level clay event last week.

The other three seeds in Gauff’s section have all lost, so she would not play a seed until the quarterfinals. And that would be No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who has won all 12 sets they’ve played, including in last year’s French Open final.

“I lost that final, and like for like a week or two, I really thought it was the worst thing ever,” Gauff said. “There’s no point in me revisiting last year. It’s in the past. It was a great tournament, but I’m looking forward for more this week.”

While the men’s draw has been upended by 14-time champion Rafael Nadal‘s pre-event withdrawal and No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev‘s loss in the first round, the top women have taken care of business.

The top four seeds — Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, American Jessica Pegula and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan — all reached the third round without dropping a set.

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