In a strange set of circumstances, Olympic 100m Hurdles gold medalist Brianna Rollins has been suspended from competition for the 2017 season. The following press release provides the explanation and includes Rollins response:
Brianna Rollins Responds To One Year Sanction For Whereabouts Violation, Remains Committed To Competing Clean
Los Angeles (April 20, 2017) – Following a hearing before the American Arbitration Association, the arbitrators have sanctioned Brianna Rollins for 12 months for three whereabouts failures, which is the minimum possible sanction in this type of case. In reducing her sanction, the arbitrators agreed that Brianna Rollins has never tried to evade drug testing in any way, and that at least one of her missed tests was a result of her confusion created by the computer program in which she was required to identify where she would be at all times, which resulted in her “whereabouts” listing both her residence and a track meet at which she would be competing as her location for testing on certain days. Brianna Rollins was tested at least 16 times in 2016and has never tested positive because she has never used any banned substances. She will be free to return to competition on December 18, 2017.
In reducing her sanction to the minimum sanction allowable, the independent arbitration tribunal stated as follows:
“This is a difficult case because it involves the imposition of a serious penalty on a brilliant athlete who is not charged or suspected of using banned substances of any kind. [Brianna Rollins] is justly admired … she shows no evidence of avoiding testing, masking drug use, or using drugs.”
Brianna Rollins responded to this news as follows:
“It is with my deepest regrets that I will have to miss the 2017 outdoor season. I accept full responsibility for the mistakes that have led to my suspension and am disappointed that I will have to miss this coming outdoor season, as a result of my confusion over how the whereabouts program worked. I have always been and continue to be a supporter of USADA and their fight to keep our sport clean, and I will continue to do my part to prove that success can be achieved without taking any shortcuts. This is a very unpleasant experience, but I am able to see where errors were made. Understanding this will prevent any similar issues in the future, I will accept the sanction and work to prepare myself for my return in 2018. I would also like to urge all my fellow track athletes to be aware of the importance in filing correct whereabouts notifications, and to fully understand the implications of what could happen if errors are made.”
Rollins was not present for three random, out-of-competition drug tests in 2016, which constitutes a two-year ban under anti-doping rules. Rollins had that ban reduced by an arbitration panel to the shortest possible length — one year — given the circumstances and her drug-free record.
Two of the three missed tests came in September, one month after Rollins led a U.S. 100m hurdles sweep in Rio.
Rollins was in her Florida hometown to celebrate “Brianna Rollins Day” on Sept. 13. Two weeks later, she went to visit the White House with the U.S. Olympic team.
Drug testers showed up at Rollins’ Georgia home during both trips, but she wasn’t present as she previously stated that she would be. If Rollins had updated drug testers on her travel to Florida and Washington, D.C., as athletes are required to do, she would have avoided the missed tests.