The Olympic 100m hurdles champion Brianna McNeal could face an eight-year ban after becoming the latest big-name athlete to be charged with an anti-doping violation.
In a statement, the Athletics Integrity Unit said that the 29-year-old American had been provisionally suspended after being charged with “tampering within the results management process”, but did not give any more details.
Under anti-doping rules, the standard sanction for a tampering charge is a four-year ban. However in 2017 McNeal was banned for a year by the United States Anti-Doping Agency after three whereabouts failures in 2016 – two of them after she forgot to update her whereabouts details when she was attending a fete of honour in her hometown and travelling to the White House to meet the president.
McNeal who led a historic USA sweep of the medals in her event in Rio, with Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin finishing second and third, was punished under the World Anti-Doping Agency’s code for failing to properly file whereabouts information on three occasions in a 12-month period.
The American Arbitration Association, which ruled on the case, described it as “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”.
At that time, McNeal posted a statement to her Instagram account, which read in part: “I’ve always competed clean, and I am always happy to be tested to prove it. This is one of the most difficult times in my career, especially after having such a great 2016 season – all I wanted to do was capitalise on that but God has other plans.” Competing under her maiden name of Rollins, also claimed the world 100m hurdles title in Moscow in 2013.
Last week it was revealed that the London 2017 world long jump champion, Luvo Manyonga – who made worldwide headlines when he recovered from a crystal meth addiction to become one of the faces of track and field – could face a four-year ban after being provisionally suspended for whereabouts failures. The current 100m world champion Christian Coleman was hit with a two-year ban in October for missing tests.