World Athletics did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The five-year suspension follows a one-year ban McNeal received four years ago for missing three tests in a 12-month period. In this case, she said she twice forgot to update her whereabouts in the system that tracks athletes for random testing. On a third occasion, she said, she made a mistake entering the time she would be available.
McNeal said she is showing up to discuss abortion now because she wanted people to know that the current suspension involved nothing like tampering with a urine sample. She said she “doesn’t dope and will never dope.
McNeal’s case highlights the question of how far anti-doping authorities are going – or should go – to catch athletes who use banned drugs, while protecting the rights of clean athletes.
The anti-doping rulebook is getting thicker and more nuanced, making it more difficult for clean athletes to follow all the rules. Drug testing technology has become more sensitive, which means that small traces of banned drugs – perhaps ingested while consuming contaminated food – appear in the results. Yet athletes and their masters continue to offer wacky excuses for missing or failing drug tests, making it difficult for anti-doping authorities to relax any part of their quest to keep the sport clean.
Russian high jumper Danil Lysenko’s excuse for missing tests, for example, was that he was undergoing medical tests at a hospital when the drug tester was looking for him. In the end, the names of the doctors on the documents submitted in his defense turned out to be false and the hospital itself did not exist. Other cases, however, are complicated and anti-doping officials must decide how strictly they will enforce the rules, if it comes to catching athletes who are intentionally cheating.
“No one wants a paperwork violation or other mistake to stop a clean athlete from achieving their dreams,” said Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, adding that he was not. involved in the McNeal case and that he had not seen the detailed documentation of it.
In recent years, some anti-doping authorities have shown that they will be looking for even a tiny bit of wrongdoing, even if the violation does not prove that the athlete is doping. Fairness is questionable, especially when an athlete has made what is clearly a mistake.