Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser, who ran the third fastest time ever when she won world 400m gold last year, has been provisionally banned after failing to meet ‘whereabouts’ criteria, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) announced Friday.
The Nigerian-born 22-year-old clocked 48.14 seconds to win the one-lap race at the Doha worlds, placing her third in the all-time list behind Marita Koch (47.60 in 1985) and Jarmila Kratochvilova (47.99 in 1983).
Naser’s gold medal-winning performance in Doha made her just the second woman to win a global-level title for Bahrain, following in the footsteps of Ethiopian-born Maryam Yusuf Jamal, who won two world 1,500m titles (2007, 2009) and was upgraded to Olympic gold in the 2012 London Games after the initial winner and runner-up were both banned for biological passport irregularities.
Naser switched allegiance to Bahrain in 2014, when she was 16. That year she turned heads at the Youth Olympic Games when she won 400m silver while wearing a hijab and a full bodysuit.
She cuts a different figure now, competing in short shorts and a sleeveless midriff-bearing top. Naser also sports five body piercings, nine tattoos and often has dyed hair, unusual for a female Muslim athlete representing a conservative Gulf state such as Bahrain.
Elite athletes are required to provide the AIU got itwith their whereabouts 90 days in advance so they can be subjected to out-of-competition doping tests.
Under World Athletics’ rules, any combination of three whereabouts failures (filing failure and/or missed test) within a period of 12 months constitutes an anti-doping rule violation, for which the sanction is two years’ ineligibility subject to a reduction to a minimum of one year depending on the athlete’s degree of fault.
The AIU is the independent anti-doping watchdog for track and field, set up in 2017.