U.S. Olympic Hurdler Brianna McNeal Facing 5-Year Ban for Anti-Doping Rule Violation

ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images

The Athletics Integrity Unit announced
Friday that American Olympic gold medalist Brianna McNeal, who won
the 100-meter hurdles at the 2016 Summer Games, has received a
five-year ban for a violation of anti-doping rules.

Tom Schad of USA Today reported McNeal
was accused of “tampering within the results management
process,” but the AIU didn’t provide full details of the
suspension citing “confidentiality reasons.” The ruling is retroactive to Aug. 15, 2020.

The 29-year-old Miami native has
appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and can
compete in this month’s U.S. Olympic Trials while the case plays out,
per Schad.

Howard Jacobs and Lindsay Brandon,
McNeal’s lawyers, released a statement about the decision to appeal, saying the
hurdler is “not a doper, and firmly believes that she did not
violate any anti-doping rule,” per Schad.

“This case involves a
misunderstanding related to an explanation that Brianna McNeal
voluntarily provided to the AIU about a January 2020 missed test,”
the attorneys wrote. “The AIU 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.”

McNeal, who was provisionally suspended
in January, wrote on Instagram in February she was dealing with a “tough few weeks” between the ban, a sprained ankle and a
COVID-19 diagnosis.

“As far as my situation goes, I am
still me! Very clean, very honest and transparent,” she wrote. “Once all of this blows over I will provide more details of what’s
actually going on. The system is pretty messed up if you ask me but
that’s another topic for another day.”

McNeal burst onto the scene by winning
gold in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2013 World Championships. She
cemented herself among the best track and field competitors in the
world by taking home Olympic gold three years later.

Her previously blossoming career has
featured a series of missteps in recent years, though.

She received a 12-month sanction from
the United States Anti-Doping Agency in 2017 for a failure to provide
whereabouts information for out-of-competition testing. The ruling,
which was reached by a American Arbitration Association panel, came
after she failed to provide whereabouts details for three tests in 2016.

McNeal missed the 2017 World
Championships because of that suspension. She was then disqualified
from the 2019 World Championships because of a false start during the
preliminary heats.

The AIU noted her CAS appeal “will be heard before the Tokyo Olympics,” so if she qualifies for
Team USA during the Olympic trials and wins the appeal, she’ll be
eligible to compete in the Summer Games, which begin in July.

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