Bahraini athlete of Nigerian descent, Salwa Eid Naser, is facing a two-year ban after being provisionally suspended for missing three drug tests in a 12-month period.
Born Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu in Anambra State, Naser ran the third-fastest 400m in history and secured the gold medal at the 2019 world championships in Doha.
According to the Guardian, the suspension was confirmed in a statement by the Athletics Integrity Unit, which said Naser had been issued with a charge for violating World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules.
Athletes are required to record details of their whereabouts for one hour every day in case they need to be tested.
A violation means an athlete did not fill out forms telling authorities where they could be found, or that they were not where they said they would be when testers arrived.
There have been other doping cases among Bahrain’s elite squad of female runners in recent years.
In 2018 the Guardian broke the story that the Olympic steeplechase champion Ruth Jebet had tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO, and she was later suspended for four years.
The Olympic marathon runner-up Eunice Kirwa was also given a four-year ban in 2019, having been found to have taken EPO in an out-of-competition drug test in 2017.
The 22-year-old who moved from Nigeria to Bahrain when she was 14, won a silver medal over 400m at the 2017 world championships in London and is a former world youth champion.
She took nearly a second off her personal best in running 48.18 in Doha – the fastest time by a woman since 1985.
Only the East German Marita Koch and the Czech athlete Jarmila Kratochvilova have ever run faster.
When asked after her stunning victory whether Koch’s record of 47.60 set in 1985 was in reach, Naser responded: “Anything is possible.”
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By James Agberebi