Brianna McNeal, the 2016 Olympic 100m hurdles champion, lost her appeal of a five-year ban in a drug-testing case and is set to miss the next two Olympics.
McNeal was provisionally suspended in January and given a five-year ban a month ago for what anti-doping officials called tampering with part of a doping control process from a January 2020 missed drug test.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Friday dismissed McNeal’s appeal of the ban that is backdated to August 2020 without yet publishing details.
She was allowed to compete at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials last month while appealing. McNeal finished second in the 100m hurdles to qualify for the U.S. team for Tokyo, should her appeal have been successful. Gabbi Cunningham, who finished fourth, is now in line to be named to the Olympic team. A USA Track and Feld spokesperson said the team will be named next week.
McNeal said this week that she missed the January 2020 test while in bed recovering from an abortion that she had two days earlier, according to The New York Times.
She did not hear the anti-doping official knock on her door at her home, nor did anyone answer her phone, according to the report, the summary of which was confirmed later Friday by anti-doping officials.
Missing one out-of-competition test does not necessitate a ban. Typically, it takes three in a 12-month period. This was McNeal’s second after a June 2019 missed test, according to the Athletics Integrity Unit case details published after the Friday appeal ruling was announced.
McNeal, in voluntarily providing documentation for the missed Jan. 12 test, mistakenly changed the date of her medical procedure from Jan. 10 to Jan. 11, leading to the suspension.
Later Friday, McNeal posted on social media that she was “under physical and mental trauma” after the abortion.
“Should my career pretty much be over because I had the date of my abortion wrong by 24 hours?” was posted on McNeal’s accounts. “I am being excommunicated from the sport as if I was shooting up drugs my entire career.”
On June 5, McNeal’s representatives said the case involved “a misunderstanding related to an explanation” that McNeal provided.
“The AIU [Athletics Integrity Unit] has not accused Brianna McNeal of ever using any banned substances, has not accused Brianna McNeal of evading doping control; and has not accused Brianna McNeal of tampering with any urine sample or blood sample,” according to an early June statement from McNeal’s representatives. “Had she ignored the AIU’s request that she explain the circumstances of that missed test, there would have been no consequences.”
“Once all of this blows over I will provide more details of what’s actually going on,” was posted on McNeal’s social media in February, three weeks after her provisional suspension was announced while awaiting a hearing on the charges. “The system is pretty messed up if you ask me but that’s another topic for another day.”
McNeal was previously suspended for one year in 2017 in a strange case of missing three drug tests — but not failing any tests — in a one-year span.
An athlete’s second suspension over anti-doping rules usually carries a lengthier penalty, even if neither was for failing a drug test.
McNeal, now 29, led a U.S. medals sweep of the 100m hurdles in Rio.
She then missed the 2017 World Championships while serving the previous ban. In that case, an arbitration panel believed that McNeal was a clean athlete, showing “no evidence of avoiding testing, masking drug use, or using drugs.”
At the 2019 Worlds, McNeal false started out of the first round of the 100m hurdles.
She did not contest a 100m hurdles race in 2020, but did compete in sprints between 60m and 150m and the indoor 60m hurdles.
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