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

Salwa Eid Naser

Bahrein’s Salwa Eid Naser competes in the Women’s 400m heats at the 2019 IAAF Athletics World Championships at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on September 30, 2019. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

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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