The reigning Olympic gold medalist in the 100-meter hurdles is facing a five-year ban for violating anti-doping rules, an international disciplinary panel ruled Friday.
U.S. hurdler Brianna McNeal, 29, has been accused of “tampering within the results management process,” according to a ruling from the Athletics Integrity Unit, which declined to release the full text of its decision – including specifics about the violation – due to “confidentiality reasons.” The AIU runs the anti-doping program for track and field’s international governing body, World Athletics.
McNeal won gold at the 2016 Rio Games as American women swept the podium in the 100-meter hurdles. According to the AIU, she has already appealed the ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which will make a final determination on the matter prior to the Tokyo Olympics, which begin July 23.
The AIU added that McNeal will be allowed to permit in the U.S. Olympic Trials later this month, while her appeal with CAS is pending. The five-year ban, if upheld, would effectively prevent her from competing at both the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and the 2024 Summer Games in Paris.
McNeal was provisionally suspended in January. In a statement at the time, her sports agency said she “has not tested positive for any substance banned in the sport of track and field” and that she “fully expects to be exonerated and continue her championship career.”
“Once all of this blows over I will provide more details of what’s actually going on,” McNeal wrote in an Instagram post in February. “The system is pretty messed up if you ask me but that’s another topic for another day.”
A representative for McNeal did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the AIU’s announcement Friday.
McNeal, who competed collegiately at Clemson and also won a world championship in 2013, was previously banned for 12 months by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency following a series of whereabouts violations. Under anti-doping rules, athletes must inform drug-testing personnel of their location for one hour each day during which they can be tested.