Deajah Stevens, a U.S. Olympic 200m sprinter, was suspended through Aug. 15, 2021, for missing drug tests, ruling her out of the Tokyo Games unless she successfully appeals.
Stevens, who placed seventh in Rio, missed three drug tests in 2019, grounds for a suspension between one and two years.
The exact length depends on an athlete’s degree of fault and, with the timing in this case, determined whether she would be banned through the Olympics.
The 18-month ban was backdated to Feb. 17, the date that Stevens requested her case be expedited. Her last of three missed tests was Nov. 25.
Stevens’ lawyer requested the suspension be backdated to the third missed test, which would have kept her eligible for the Olympics, or the date of Stevens’ request for an expedited hearing on Feb. 17, which could have kept her Olympic eligible if the ban was closer to one year.
For Stevens’ second missed test, she did not hear door knocks from a back bedroom. The drug tester called her five times but never received an answer. Stevens said her phone was out of battery power.
For her last missed test, the drug tester again tried to call Stevens. But Stevens changed her phone number six weeks earlier, after somebody was harassing her and threatening her fiance’s life. She had not yet notified drug-testing authorities that she changed her number.
“Despite our sympathy for the athlete, we have not been satisfied on a balance of probability that her behavior was not negligent and did not cause or contribute to her failure to be available for testing,” a disciplinary tribunal found. “She already had missed two doping tests in the last six months. She should have been on red alert and conscious that she could not miss the next one.”
Stevens’ initial provisional suspension was announced May 1 ahead of a June 25 disciplinary tribunal hearing.
Stevens, 25, was disqualified from the 2019 U.S. Outdoor Championships 200m semifinals in her only outdoor meet of the year, according to World Athletics.
She ranked No. 3 in the U.S. in the 200m in 2017 (and placed fifth at the world championships), No. 31 in 2018 and No. 59 in 2019.
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