As Winter Olympic athletes begin prepping for South Korea, USA sprinter Gil Roberts claimed a monumental victory courtesy of a Court of Arbitration for Sport appeals court ruling on Thursday. Roberts, who tested positive for a banned drug called probenecid last March, previously claimed that his positive test was as a result of passionate kissing with his girlfriend Alex Salazar, roughly three hours before he was tested.
Roberts, 28, won a 4×400-meter relay gold medal at the Rio Games in 2016 and an expedited ruling last July allowed him to compete at the U.S. Championships in August. There he ran a personal best of 44.22 seconds, however, the World Anti-Doping Agency appealed.
According to Salazar’s testimony last week, she contracted a sickness while on vacation with family in India and was prescribed an antibiotic called Moxylong, which contained traces of probenecid. In addition, Salazar testified to being reluctant to swallow pills and opted to empty the capsule’s contents onto her tongue, triggering his positive test result.
During his appeal, Roberts stuck with that defense, and was exonerated in a New York court.
Via the New York Times
“There could have been tongue kissing, but it was more that she kissed me so soon after taking the medicine,” Roberts said Thursday, expressing relief that he had evaded a ban of up to four years for trace amounts of probenecid, a masking agent prohibited by sports regulators for its ability to disguise other drugs.
“We weren’t even embarrassed in the courtroom. It felt very technical,” Salazar, 24, said.
“We had passport stamps, receipts, and all of the dates lined up perfectly,” she added, referring to the timeline of vacation, sickness and return home to Los Angeles in March 2017.
As a result, Roberts’ Nike sponsorship and his eligibility for the 2020 Olympics are no longer in jeopardy. The CAS upholding the ruling in Roberts’ favor is not without precedent. One of the experts flown in to testify was University of Strasbough (France) professor Dr. Pascal Kintz.
In 2009, Kintz provided testimony in the precedent-setting case of French tennis player Richard Gasquet who proved that the cocaine found in his system was the result of a woman named Pamela, whom he’d made out with in a Miami nightclub on the eve of a tournament. After he was found at fault by a tennis doping panel, the CAS overruled their decision.
In 2016, pole vaulter Shawn Barber also avoided a two-year suspension after using the kissing defense in front of an independent arbitrator.
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